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Michael A. Gold, Mihaela M. Cernusca and Larry D. Godsey

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Michael A. Gold, Mihaela M. Cernusca and Larry D. Godsey

In 2004, a nationwide survey of chestnut (Castanea spp.) producers in the United States was conducted. Results show that the U.S. chestnut industry is in its infancy. The majority of chestnut producers have been in business less than 10 years and are just beginning to produce commercially. Volume of production is low (<1.5 million lb). U.S. chestnut producers are mainly part-timers or hobbyists with small, manually harvested operations. The majority of respondents sell fresh chestnuts. Demand exceeds supply, and prices often exceed $3.50/lb. Barriers to success in the chestnut business include the lack of information for producers, retailers, and consumers, 5- to 10-year time lag to get a return on investment, and shortage of available chestnut nursery stock of commercial cultivars. There are also concerns related to pest and disease control and market uncertainties. Lengthy quarantines for cultivars from other countries and lack of chemicals registered for use with chestnuts can also be considered barriers to success. Chestnut grower associations, universities, and state and federal agencies must join their efforts to fund and support chestnut research and industry development.

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Francisco X. Aguilar, Mihaela M. Cernusca and Michael A. Gold

This article explores consumers' preferences for different chestnut (Castanea spp.) attributes and studies differences across potential market segments. The study was conducted between 2003 and 2007 during the Missouri Chestnut Roast festival. The festival, held annually in October during the chestnut harvest season, is one of mid-Missouri's premier family-oriented events. A longitudinal study completed among festival visitors in 2003, 2004, and 2006 to identify chestnut characteristics that influence purchasing decisions was complemented with a conjoint analysis in 2007. The conjoint analysis used a conditional logit model to investigate responses from pairwise product profile comparisons. The attributes investigated include chestnut size (small, medium, and large), price ($3, $5, and $7 per pound), production process (organic and conventional), and origin (Missouri, United States, and imported). Results suggest a strong preference for locally and U.S.-grown compared with imported chestnuts. Local growers that provide the market with medium-size chestnuts that carry organic certification could command a market premium compared with imported/nonorganic certified chestnuts.

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Michael A. Gold, Mihaela M. Cernusca and Larry D. Godsey

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) have many nutritional and medicinal benefits. The cultivation of log-grown shiitake mushrooms encourages forest farming and can be an opportunity for farmers interested in developing an additional enterprise. In 2006, the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry conducted a nationwide survey of shiitake mushroom producers to analyze the U.S. shiitake mushroom industry by taking into consideration the forces that influence competition based on Porter's five forces model. Shiitake mushrooms are grown primarily as a side business, especially those produced exclusively outdoors. Indoor production on sawdust generates higher income than outdoor production on logs, but log production is more suitable for a small-scale operation in an agroforestry setting. Barriers to entry are created by relationships in the market, economies of scale, and the learning curve effect. Although there are a limited number of spawn suppliers in the market, they produce quality inoculum and maintain good relationships with shiitake mushroom producers. The majority of respondents sell their shiitake mushrooms locally. Gourmet restaurants, farmers markets, and on-farm outlets are the main markets for shiitake mushrooms. Trends in demand are increasing and prices are high. Shiitake mushrooms can be replaced with other common or gourmet mushroom types, but also have their own identity for numerous nutritional and medicinal properties. Competition for log-grown shiitake mushrooms arises from shiitake mushrooms produced on sawdust and from imports. To successfully survive in the market, firms create competitive advantages through quality, customer service, and consistent supply. Barriers to success in the shiitake mushroom business include demanding work requirements, the need for a serious commitment to produce and market shiitake mushrooms, a 1-year time lag between investment and a return on investment, and insufficient production and marketing information. Grower associations, universities, and state and federal agencies must join their efforts to fund and support shiitake mushroom research and industry development.