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  • Author or Editor: Ariana Torres x
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Young consumers value healthy foods and are willing to pay for them. As young consumers transition into higher paying jobs, their influence in the food system will compound. This study used a convenient sample of university students to understand how young consumers value attributes for fresh produce. With the proliferation of food labels, this study takes a step back to identify four consumer segments with regard to their values on explicit (i.e., organic and local) and implicit (i.e., small-family farms and sustainable) attributes: committed, farm-to-fork, unattached, and skeptic. The study also investigated the impact of personal motives on cluster membership. Although committed consumers placed high value on all attributes, farm-to-fork consumers valued local, sustainable, and small-family farm systems, but did not have positive valuation toward organic. Our findings suggest increasing access to local foods and farmers market patronage is likely to increase consumers’ valuing foods with local, organic, sustainable, and small-family farms attributes.

Open Access

Little is known about the drivers of organic decertification and it is unclear what production practices farmers adopt after decertification. This article investigated how farm demographics and characteristics, sources of information, and perceptions influence a farmer’s decision to decertify. The data for this article were from a 2012 web-based survey of fruit and vegetable farmers that were part of the Food Industry MarketMaker database. We used a robust probit regression to identify the drivers of organic decertification of fruit and vegetable farmers in the U.S. Demographics; farm’s characteristics, sources of information, and farmer’s perceptions were key factors influencing the decision to decertify. Finding useful information from price reporting services and certifiers decreased the probability to decertify. On the other hand, farmers located in the Midwest, those selling vegetables, and those perceiving the organic certification process as a barrier were more likely to decertify.

Free access

Current market trends indicate an increasing demand for unique and exotic flowering crops, including tropical plants. Tecoma stans (L. Juss. Kunth) ‘Mayan Gold’ is a tropical plant that was selected as a potential new greenhouse crop for its physical appearance and drought and heat tolerance. However, in winter and early spring, when propagation occurs, outdoor photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) can be relatively low. The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of DLI during propagation of Tecoma and to determine optimum DLI levels for seed propagation. Seeds were propagated under 13 mean DLIs ranging from 0.75 to 25.2 mol·m−2·d−1 created by the combination of high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS) and fixed woven shadecloths of varying densities. Thirty-five days after sowing, height, stem diameter, node number, relative leaf chlorophyll content, leaf fresh weight, leaf number, total leaf area, individual leaf area, leaf area ratio, shoot and root dry mass increased as DLI increased. Average internode elongation and specific leaf area decreased at a quadratic and linear rate, respectively, as DLI increased from 0.75 to 25.2 mol·m−2·d−1. These experiments indicate that high-quality Tecoma seedlings were obtained when DLI was 14 to 16 mol·m−2·d−1 during propagation.

Free access

Tecoma stans (L. Juss. Kunth) ‘Mayan Gold’ is a tropical flowering plant that was selected as a potential new greenhouse crop for its physical appearance and drought and heat tolerance. The objective of this study was to quantify how temperature during the finishing stage and photoperiod during propagation and finishing stages influence growth, flowering, and quality. In Expt. 1, plants were propagated from seed under four photoperiods (9, 12, 14, or 16 h) for 35 days. Under long-day (LD) photoperiods (14 h or greater), seedlings were 3.0 to 3.7 cm taller than those propagated under 9-h photoperiods. During the finishing stage, days to first open flower, shoot dry mass, and number of nodes below the terminal inflorescence were reduced when plants were grown under LD photoperiods. In addition, number of open flowers and branches increased under LD photoperiods. Few plants developed visible buds when grown under short-day (SD) photoperiods (12 h or less). In Expt. 2, plants were forced at average daily temperatures of 19, 20, or 22 °C after transplant. Time to first open flower was reduced by 7 days as temperature increased. Inversely, number of visible buds increased by 57 as temperature increased from 19 to 22 °C. Under the experimental conditions tested, the most rapid, complete, and uniform flowering of Tecoma occurred when plants were propagated and finished under LD photoperiods and forced at 22 °C.

Free access

The domestic market for melons, Cucumis melo L., has not been well characterized. The 2011 cantaloupe-related foodborne illness outbreak reduced melon production by 32%, and per capita consumption of cantaloupe and honeydew melons has not recovered. Our objective was to profile and characterize consumer segments of individuals who purchased melons in the 3 months before the survey. Responses from 1718 participants were analyzed by consumption volume and subjected to cluster analysis based on importance of melon attributes. Heavy and moderate consumers preferred local melons over imported. The top four melon attributes were flavor, freshness, ripeness, and sweetness. As consumption increased, consumers placed more importance for their diets. The heaviest consumption group accounted for 22% of the market, and consumed nearly three times the melon servings per month compared with the moderate consumer, and nearly 10 times the servings of the light consumption group. Cluster analysis produced three distinct clusters. Cluster 1 was the most promelon in attitudes and consumption, as well as general health interest, craving sweet food, food pleasure, and variety seeking in foods. The largest segment was cluster 3 and was the ideal group for future targeting of marketing and advertising campaigns for increasing the melon market share with their intermediate consumption and promelon attitudes. Last, members of cluster 2 consumed the lowest amount of melons, spent the least on melons, and traveled the fewest number of miles to purchase them, relative to the other two segments.

Open Access

Online advertising is becoming a mainstay business practice to reach firms’ customer bases. Yet, the adoption and use of online advertising in the green industry are topics that have not been adequately researched. Using a national survey of green industry firms conducted in 2019, this research uses a double-hurdle model to investigate factors that impact firms’ adoption of, and amount spent on, online advertising. Our results show that one-third of the companies invested in online advertising. Of those investing in online advertising, the average percentage of online advertising as a share of all advertising expenditures was 46%. Small businesses were less likely to invest in online advertising compared with larger businesses; however, once they invested in online advertising, the percentage of investment was 25% higher among small firms when compared with their larger counterparts. Increasing years in operation as well as trade show participation was related to a 3% decrease in likelihood to use online advertising. Business owners who perceived hiring competent employees as a barrier to business growth invested 19% less of their advertising budget in online channels, which may indicate a lack of human resources to advertise online. We also compared the industry results with data from a 2014 survey and found the amount invested in online advertising increased ≈3% to 5% between studies. The percentage in wholesale sales influenced the amount spent on online advertising in 2014 but not in 2019. Being a small firm in 2014 increased the amount spent on online advertising, but the effect was 14% lower in 2019. In 2014, firms located in the Pacific, Southcentral, and Southeast U.S. regions invested more in online advertising compared with other regions, but in 2019, the only geographic difference was that firms in the Great Plains spent less on online advertising. Despite their lower adoption rates, the increased expenditures on online advertising implies that smaller firms that implement online advertising receive value through that channel and are willing to allocate more resources to leverage its reach. Firms contemplating adopting and investing in online advertising should consider their resource availability and marketing goals related to reaching different customer groups through online advertising.

Open Access

The landscape service sector is an important part of the environmental horticulture industry. However, research addressing factors impacting its business and marketing practices are scarce. This manuscript uses data collected via online and mail industry surveys in 2014 and 2019 to investigate U.S. landscape service firms’ advertising and marketing practices and different factors that influence their business strategies by firm type and size. Product mix, advertising method, and the importance of different business factors were impacted by firm type. Landscape service only firms had the most diverse product offerings, while firms with wholesale production had the least diversity. Landscape service only firms primarily used in-person and telephone advertising, while firms with wholesale production used a broader swath of advertising medias to reach a more diversified clientele. Overall, weather and labor-related factors had the most impact on landscaping firms’ business practices. Larger firms perceived labor factors as more important than smaller firms.

Open Access

The consumption of salad mixes has increased because of their convenience and nutritional value, resulting in significant sales increases during the past decade. Conversely, the uses of pest-control chemicals, long-distance transportation of salad mixes, and plastic packaging have raised environmental concerns among “green consumers.” Because proenvironmental products are becoming more widespread, this study delved into market segments of salad mix consumers based on their preferences for proenvironmental labels. Data for this study were collected via a 2020 web-based survey of 2100 salad mix consumers in the United States. We performed a comprehensive two-stage cluster analysis that integrated both hierarchical and partitioning methods. This analysis was based on consumers’ preferences and evaluations of production (low energy use, low fertilizer use, low greenhouse gas emissions, low water use, and pollinator-friendly) and marketing-related (biodegradable packaging, low carbon footprint, and low food miles) proenvironmental labels. Three segments were identified. We used ordered probit regression to assess the impact of consumer demographic characteristics, market preferences, and environmental perceptions on cluster membership. The deep-rooted segment, which represented 36% of the sample, highly valued all proenvironmental labels related to salad mixes and had a particular preference for labels that included low fertilizer use, pollinator-friendly production methods, and low greenhouse gas emissions. The indecisive segment comprised 40% of the sample and moderately valued all proenvironmental labels; this group mainly comprised individuals with lower income levels and those living in rural areas. The skeptic segment represented 23% of the sample and valued environmental labels less than the deep-rooted and indecisive segments did; additionally, they reported the lowest consumption of salad mixes. These findings can help retailers and policymakers communicate information about proenvironmental labels more effectively to each segment of salad mix consumers.

Open Access

Value-added (VA) technologies can help farmers in the specialty crops industry generate new products, increase off-season income sources, expand market access, and improve overall profitability. The United States Department of Agriculture defines VA agricultural products as those that have been changed physically or produced in a manner that enhances their value. Drawing from this definition, we investigated the adoption of VA technologies, such as drying, physical cutting into customer-ready portions, and washing, by specialty crops farmers. The objectives of this study were two-fold. First, we analyzed how market access drives specialty crop farmers to adopt VA technologies. Second, we addressed key identification issues by investigating the potential endogeneity between the adoption of VA technologies (vertical diversification) and the number of crops (horizontal diversification), which have not been addressed in the VA technology adoption literature. Data for this study were from a 2019 Web-based survey of specialty crops farmers in the United States. The results suggest that market access, growers’ networks, and crop diversification are major drivers of VA technology adoption in the specialty crops industry. The results indicate that farmers who adopted VA technologies experienced economic growth relative to their counterparts.

Open Access