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Monday, November 22, 2010

Surveys of mid-Atlantic consumers conducted by Penn State researchers part 1

Over the past 2 years, researchers at Penn State University have surveyed mid-Atlantic consumers to determine consumer attitudes and behaviors towards food purchases. Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. were chosen based on the diverse demographics of consumers who reside in each area.

Survey questions were developed to investigate factors influencing consumer purchasing decisions regarding fresh produce and value-added, processed products. Researchers were interested in the role and impact of increasing food prices, rising energy costs, and other economic factors. Survey respondents were also asked about food safety, quality, availability, variety, and affordability. The surveys were conducted quarterly to investigate changes over time to better forecast consumer responses to situations, such as further increases in energy costs and reoccurring food safety issues.

For the next few weeks, I will be blogging about these survey results and how they can help entrepreneurs make decisions about their businesses. The first set of results I will discuss involves questions regarding on what types of food products
survey respondents purchased, where they purchased these products, and what variables may have affected their purchasing behaviors. One particular question asked participants to indicate what types of produce/produce-based food items they purchased for their household during an average week.

90.6% of survey participants chose fresh fruits and vegetables as items bought for their household during an average week. The next most popular item was potato/corn/vegetable chips, selected by 71.2% of participants. Other popular food items included frozen fruits and vegetables, selected by 64.3%, jams/jellies/marmalades (59%), fruit/vegetable juice or nectar (57.4%), vegetable-based soups (56.6%), and canned/bottled fruits and vegetables (54%).

To read more about the survey, please visit www.midatlanticspecialtycrops.com and click the "Newsroom" tab.

As an ag entrepreneur, do you sell any of the above products? If you sell a variety of these product types, are your sales similar to this data (meaning is fresh produce a better seller than fruit/vegetable juices or canned fruit/vegetables)? If you are thinking about becoming an ag entrepreneur or you are an ag entrepreneur looking to expand your product line, does this data influence your decisions on what you will sell?

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