a1 Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Division of Resource Management, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6108, Morgantown, West Virginia, 26506 (email@example.com).
A mail survey was used to gather information from the main food buyer in random households in southeast Missouri to analyze consumer preferences for locally grown food. A majority of shoppers in the region were not aware of the state's AgriMissouri promotion program. Consumers defined locally grown not as a statewide concept but as a narrower regional concept that could cross state boundaries. Most important when purchasing produce were quality and freshness, and most consumers perceived local produce at farmers' markets to be of higher quality and lower price. Farm households were not significantly different from other households in the region and did not show a preference or willingness to pay a price premium for local food products. Food buyers who were members of an environmental group had higher education and income and were more likely to purchase organic food and more willing to pay a higher price for local produce. Households in which someone was raised on a farm, or had parents who were raised on a farm, had a preference for locally grown food and were willing to pay a price premium for it. Marketing local products should stress quality, freshness, and price competitiveness, and appeal to environmentalists and those with a favorable attitude towards family farms.
(Accepted April 28 2003)