Two separate surveys were administered (17-19 Nov. 2008 and 7-10 Apr. 2009) to consumers residing in five metropolitan areas in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States (1710 for Survey 1 and 1518 for Survey 2) to investigate and compare consumer stated preferences toward locally grown and certified organic produce. In Survey 1, participants were asked to indicate whether they agreed that purchasing locally grown produce was more important than purchasing organically grown produce. In addition, they were asked to report whether locally grown and certified organic were factors in their produce purchasing decision. Compared with their counterparts (each demographic examined independently), White/Anglos, Asian Americans, and those aged 25 years and older agreed that purchasing locally grown produce was more important than purchasing organically grown produce. A greater percentage of participants aged 37 years and older (average of 65%) and 66% of White/Anglo participants selected "produce was grown in my local area." In addition, a greater percentage of participants aged between 21 and 64 years (average of 32%) and 48% of Asian Americans selected "produce was grown using 'certified' organic methods," compared with their counterparts. In Survey 2, participants were presented with six pairwise comparisons and asked to indicate their stated preference between each of the two options, which included combinations of "locally grown," "not locally grown," "certified organic," and "not certified organic." Stated preference for locally grown produce was highest among the following participant groups (each group examined independently): those aged 37 years and older, White/Anglo participants, those without children living in their household, females, and participants with income levels $25,000 and greater. In addition, stated preference for certified organic was highest among the following groups (again, each group examined independently): those aged between 21 and 36 years; Black/African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans; those with children living in their household; females; and participants with income levels of $25,000 and greater. Produce industry members in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region (e.g., farmers, distributors, retail store owners, restauranteurs, agricultural extension personnel) can incorporate this research into marketing plans, purchasing decisions, or educational or applied research programs as appropriate.
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