Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pushed to increase the number of farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). However, a small percentage of farmers markets accept SNAP and little is known of the experience of the farmer-vendors who participate in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. The objective of this exploratory study was to elucidate farmers’ attitudes regarding central terminal model EBT programs at selected Michigan farmers markets. This study used qualitative research methods and a case approach. Thirty-two farmers that participated in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets were interviewed. Three main themes emerged. First, based on their experiences, farmers expressed a positive attitude toward central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. Second, positive attitudes were often associated with the view that market managers had made it easy for farmers to accept EBT benefits and freed them from the administrative burdens of redemption and federal reporting. Third, farmers believed that accepting food assistance benefits attracted new customers to the farmers market thus expanding their customer base. While these results may not be reflective of farmers’ attitudes in other regions, the themes that emerged highlight topics that may be important considerations when making future decisions about the expansion of electronic food assistance programs at farmers markets.
Dru N. Montri, Bridget K. Behe, and Kimberly Chung
Mary Hockenberry Meyer, Bridget K. Behe, and James Heilig
Six hundred homeowners, equally divided among rural, suburban, and urban areas in Minnesota responded to a 1999 phone survey on their lawn size, maintenance practices, and the perceived environmental impact of their lawns. The average lawn size was estimated to be 0.62 acres (0.25 ha), with an estimated 872,660 total acres (353,427 ha) in home lawns in Minnesota. Annual spending on lawn care per home was about $200, with an estimated $150 million spent annually in Minnesota. Participants reported low maintenance practices and pesticide use. A majority thought fertilizers and pesticides were harmful to the environment and public health. Respondents felt strongly that the government has a right to regulate fertilizers and pesticides in public park and lawn areas, but were divided with regard to the appropriateness of regulation on private property. Many (78.9%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that their lawn was harmful to the environment. Most (60%) felt their lawn could have an effect on the environment and 71% felt they personally could make a difference in the environment by how they maintained their lawn.
Amy H. Simonne, Bridget K. Behe, and Maurice M. Marshall
Fresh and processed tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) consumption has increased 40% in the United States over the last two decades. Through better breeding, fresh tomatoes now are marketed in different forms, sizes, colors, and flavors. However, little published information exists concerning consumer demand, preference, and demographic characteristics related to fresh tomato consumption. Taking advantage of a high percentage of Internet use in the U.S., two web-based surveys were released to approximately 6000 e-mail addresses reaching people in every region of the U.S. The surveys contained a total of 61 questions, including 50 digital images of five types of tomatoes (cherry, grape, cluster, plum, and regular slicing) with combinations of three additional factors (price, lycopene content, and production style) and demographic information. Among 389 respondents, 76% preferred and purchased slicing tomatoes in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. These were followed by grape/mini-pear (42%), plum (36%), cluster (27%), cherry (25%), and yellow slicing tomatoes (4.4%). Overall, production method (organic vs. conventional) had low relative importance in comparison to price and tomato type. However, younger participants (<age 38 years) placed more importance on production method. Participants between ages 39 and 57 years were the most price-sensitive, and female were less sensitive than males. Younger participants (<age 38 years) were less price-sensitive and placed more importance on the other attributes (production method, lycopene content, and tomato type).
Kristin L. Getter, Bridget K. Behe, and Heidi Marie Wollaeger
Declining bee populations has garnered media attention, which has pressured plant retailers to ask or demand the reduction or elimination of neonicotinoid insecticide use in greenhouse production. This study investigated consumer perspectives on eco-friendly ornamental plant production practices in combination with a variety of insect management practices. Data from an online study were collected from 1555 Americans in May 2015. Over half (55%), nearly half (48.2%), and more than 30% of the participants felt that “bees are not harmed,” “better for the environment,” or “plants that attract bees,” respectively, was a characteristic of bee-friendly insect management practices. The latter group erroneously confused bee-friendly insect management practices with plants that are a potential food source for bees. When asked to rate various insect management plant production practices on a five-point Likert scale, consumer mean scores were positive (defined here as 3.5 to 5.0) for “plants grown using bee-friendly insect management practices,” “plants grown using insect management strategies that are safe for pollinators,” “plants grown using best insect management practices to protect pollinators,” and “plants grown using insect management practices that leaves no insecticide residue on the plant.” Plant species accounted for 31.6% of the decision to purchase the plant, followed by price (25.1%), insect management strategy (23.3%), and eco-friendly practices (20.1%) that was similar to prior published findings. Analyses showed that plants labeled as “grown using bee-friendly insect management practices” were worth $0.26, $0.26, $0.89, and $1.15 more than plants labeled as “grown in a sustainably produced potting soil/mix,” “grown using recycled/recaptured water,” “grown using protective neonicotinoid insecticides,” and “grown using traditional insect management practices,” respectively. In addition, plants labeled as “grown using best insect management practices to protect pollinators” were worth $0.10, $0.10, $0.73, and $0.99 more than plants labeled as “grown in a sustainably produced potting soil/mix,” “grown using recycled/recaptured water,” “grown using protective neonicotinoid insecticides,” and “grown using traditional insect management practices,” respectively. Thus, selected insect management strategies were valued more, on average, than eco-friendly production practices.
Ariana Torres, Susan S. Barton, and Bridget K. Behe
Little information has been published on the business and marketing practices of landscape firms, an important sector of the green industry. We sought to profile the product mix, advertising, marketing, and other business practices of United States landscape firms and compare them by business type (landscape only, landscape/retail, and landscape/retail/grower) as well as by firm size. We sent the 2014 Trade Flows and Marketing survey to a wide selection of green industry businesses across the country and for the first time included landscape businesses. Herbaceous perennials, shade trees, deciduous shrubs, and flowering bedding plants together accounted for half of all landscape sales; 3/4 of all products were sold in containers. However, landscape only firms sold a higher percentage of deciduous shrubs compared with landscape/retail/grower firms. Landscape businesses diversified their sales methods as they diversified their businesses to include production and retail functions. Landscape businesses spent, on average, 5.6% of sales on advertising, yet large landscape companies spent two to three times the percentage of sales on advertising compared with small- and medium-sized firms. Advertising as a percent of sales was three to four times higher for landscape/retail/grower compared with landscape only or landscape/retail firms; most respondents used Internet advertising as their primary method of advertising. The top three factors influencing price establishment in landscape businesses were plant grade, market demand, and uniqueness of plants, whereas inflation was ranked as the least important of the nine factors provided. A higher percentage of small and medium-sized firms perceived last year’s prices as more important in price establishment compared with large firms. A high percentage of large landscape companies said the ability to hire competent hourly employees was an important factor in business growth and management, but this was true only for about half of the small and medium-sized landscape companies.
Bridget K. Behe, Paul B. Redman, and John M. Dole
Consumer flower-color preferences are of interest to market researchers, plant producers, and retailers because this information can help them to anticipate accurately the sales product mix. Our objective was to determine consumer bract-color preferences for 47 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cultivars. Visitors (124) to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, rated `Sonora', a red cultivar, highest (4.6 of 5.0) of any cultivar. Nine of ten highest rated cultivars were red. We compared the ratings of poinsettia buyers with those of nonpoinsettia buyers and found only one difference: nonpoinsettia buyers rated `Jingle Bells III', a marble cultivar, higher (4.3) than poinsettia buyers (3.8). We also compared consumers who had purchased a red poinsettia to those who had purchased nonred colors and found that red poinsettia buyers rated `Sonora' higher (4.9) than nonred poinsettia buyers (4.5). Men rated `Red Elegance' higher (3.7) than women (3.3), whereas women rated `Freedom White' higher (3.1) than men (2.4). We found few differences between men and women, buyers and nonbuyers, and nonred buyers and red buyers, which may indicate a relatively homogeneous market that does not greatly differentiate among poinsettia bract color.
Lori J. Anderson, Bridget K. Behe, and Kenneth C. Sanderson
Two surveys (one of 101 florists and one of 122 businesses) determined that florists spend little time or money recruiting commercial accounts. Poor communication among businesses and florists was a problem. Of the responding businesses, 91% were never contacted by their florists for any reason, and the methods florists did use for recruiting commercial accounts were incompatible with the means that businesses used to choose florists. Because 79% of businesses made some type of purchase from a florist during the year, florists could pursue commercial accounts as a way of increasing sales. When recruiting new accounts, florists should consider businesses' product preferences, peak gift-giving times, and purchasing preferences.
Bridget K. Behe, Lillie V. Purvis, Lisa M. Beckett, Charles H. Gilliam, and James O. Donald
Wayne A. Becker, James L. Johnson, Bridget K. Behe, Christine D. Townsend, and Kerry K. Litzenberg
A survey instrument developed to assess service quality in non-horticultural industries (SERVQUAL) was modified and administered to customers of eight florists and 22 supermarket floral departments in Texas. Sixty-six percent of 722 florist and 409 supermarket floral department responding customers had made a floral purchase within 12 weeks of the survey. Their responses were used in the service quality evaluation. Florists met consumer expectations better than supermarket floral departments each of five issues: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy (p=0.0001). Florist customers perceived their retailer gave higher quality service than supermarket floral customers.
Christopher A. Frank, Robert G. Nelson, Eric H. Simonne, Bridget K. Behe, and Amarat H. Simonne
Most bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) produced and consumed are green. However, yellow, red, orange, white, black, and purple bell peppers are also available. While bell pepper consumption in the United States has been increasing in the past 10 years, limited information is available on how their color, retail price, and vitamin C content influence consumer preferences. A conjoint analysis of 435 consumer responses showed that, for the total sample, color was about three times more important than retail price in shaping consumers' purchase decisions, while vitamin C content was nearly irrelevant. Six distinct consumer segments were identified through cluster analysis. Four segments favored green peppers, while one segment favored yellow and one favored brown. Demographic variables generally were not good predictors of segment membership, but several behavioral variables, such as past bell pepper purchases, were significantly related to segment membership. While green is generally the preferred color, market segments exist for orange, red, yellow, and even brown peppers. Applications to marketing strategies suggested that price sensitivity could explain why green peppers were priced individually, but those of other colors were priced by weight, and that promotion of increased vitamin C content would be most effective if associated specifically with yellow and orange peppers.