Report Examines Why New Englanders Buy (or Don't Buy) Local Produce

What motivates New England consumers to buy local produce? And why do some consumers avoid locally-grown items? Research conducted by NH Agricultural Experiment Station researcher John Halstead, professor of environmental and resource economics; Samantha Werner, a graduate student in environmental economics; and Nada Haddad, food and agriculture field specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension describes key findings from a 2016 consumer survey of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire residents that investigated the consumer perspective of local agriculture.

Results suggest northern New Englanders value maintaining local farmland, supporting the local economy and buying items produced without pesticides when purchasing any type of fresh produce. Consumers are motivated to purchase local and organic produce for similar reasons, such as supporting the local economy, healthy eating and buying high quality produce options. Price, however, is still the main deterrent for those who do not purchase local and organic produce. Consumers are most likely to try a new type of produce option if it is offered in a taste-test station. Additionally, consumers prefer different methods of communication depending on their age — older consumers are more interested in newspaper ads, while younger consumers prefer social media outlets. Both age groups find word-of-mouth and road signs to be preferable methods of receiving information about their local vendors.

This material is based upon work supported by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award numbers 1002686 and 0233237, and the state of New Hampshire.

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