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Shuoli Zhao, Chengyan Yue, Mary H. Meyer, and Charles R. Hall

The floral industry has experienced declining sales in the past few decades, causing many to speculate as to the underlying causes. To identify consumers’ spending patterns for fresh flowers and potted plants, we extracted and analyzed quarterly expenditure interview data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, 1996 to 2013. Our analysis revealed consumption trends over time by age group, and compared the differences in expenditure patterns across states. Additionally, we employed the Heckman two-step model to estimate how flower consumption is affected by sociodemographic characteristics, geographic factors, housing status, and seasonal factors. The estimation results show that the source of declining demand can be attributed to the decrease in both number of flower purchasers and expenditure among purchasers. Many factors including age, marital status, gender, education, income, number of earners in household, population size of the residing city, house type, and number of rooms in the house affect the demand for fresh flowers and potted plants. Given that floral expenditure has been decreasing among consumers under 40 years of age for the past two decades, innovative marketing strategies to target this age cohort are essential for the floral industry’s success in the future.

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Shuoli Zhao, Chengyan Yue, James Luby, Karina Gallardo, Vicki McCracken, James McFerson, and Desmond R. Layne

This study investigates U.S. peach producers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for potential improvement of peach fruit attributes. Data were collected from 124 U.S. peach producers. The choice experiment and socioeconomic data were analyzed using mixed logit (ML) models to estimate the producer WTP and preferences for peach attributes. The results indicate that the WTP for attribute values vary across peach producers from different production regions (California and eastern United States), with different selling targets (fresh and processed) and different orchard sizes (smaller or larger than 15 acres). These results provide useful information for peach breeders in prioritizing traits in their breeding programs.

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Jong Woo Choi, Chengyan Yue, James Luby, Shuoli Zhao, Karina Gallardo, Vicki McCracken, and Jim McFerson

We conducted choice experiments with both strawberry producers and consumers. Consumer and producer willingness to pay (WTP) for the fruit attributes were estimated using mixed logit models. Through simulation using the mixed logit model results, we derived the market equilibrium prices, supply and demand curve, as well as quantities demanded and supplied for every fruit attribute. We found the highest equilibrium price was for strawberry internal color followed by flavor. Strawberry breeders can use the information when setting breeding targets, allocating resources appropriately during their breeding process and focusing on the improvement of attributes that produce the highest social surplus and total revenue.

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Ruchen Zhou, Chengyan Yue, Shuoli Zhao, R. Karina Gallardo, Vicki McCracken, James J. Luby, and James R. McFerson

Consumer preferences for attributes of fresh peach fruit in the United States are largely unknown on a national basis. We used a choice experiment to explore market segmentation based on consumer heterogeneous preference for fruit attributes including external color, blemish, firmness, sweetness, flavor, and price. We collected the data using an online survey with 800 U.S. consumers. Using a latent class logit model, we identified three segments of consumers differing by different sets of preferred quality attributes: experience attribute-oriented consumers, who valued fruit quality (48.8% of the sample); search attribute-oriented consumers, who valued fruit appearance (33.7% of the sample); and balanced consumers, who considered search attributes and experience attributes but who valued each in a balanced way (17.5% of the sample). Each group demonstrated differentiated demographics and purchasing habits. The results have important marketing implications for peach breeders and suppliers.