Author

Lili Dang

Date of Award

8-2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Resource Economics and Policy

Advisor

Hsiang-tai Cheng

Second Committee Member

Alan S. Kezis

Third Committee Member

Timothy J. Dalton

Abstract

Farmers' market and other direct marketing outlets are booming throughout the United States. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 3100 farmers' markets in operation in 2002, generating over $1 billion annually. This thesis study provides an overview of consumers' accessibiity, opinions and behaviors toward farmers' market and other farm direct marketing outlets in the rural area of the Piscataquis County and the urban areas in the Penobscot county, Maine. This research analyzed consumers' perception and opinions toward farmers' markets using factor analysis and assessed the determinants of consumers' purchases at farmers' market using a logit model. The 207 survey responses from rural area reported having more access to farm stand than did the 186 respondents in the urban area where farmers' markets are available. The average distance to travel to farmers' market is 7.07 miles. The average number of farmers' markets outlets is 1.45. "Quality," "freshness," "locally grown," and "help local farmers" are top reasons fro shopping at farm-direct markets. The top reasons reported for not shopping at the farm direct markets are "high price," "limited hours," "inconvenient location," don't know of any in my area," and "raise my own garden produce." There were 52% consumers responded they purchased from farmers' market, 77% urban consumers did. Fruits, vegetables and organic foods are top items consumers more likely to buy from farmers' market. Roadside signs, newspapers, word of mouth were top three major information sources consumers have seen or heard of farm-direct markets. Factor analysis was used to access the common factors pertaining to consumers' reasons to shop and not to shopt at farm stand, farmers' market, and the grocery stores. In general, the six major factors attributable to sonumers' decision to shop at the farm stand and farmers' markets are: quality, local chioce, convenience, atmosphere, special choice and specialty product. Payment method that are not acceptable by farm-direct market, invonvenience, poor quality, special choice, and other are generally five factors of reasons for not shopping at farm stand, farmers' market and grocery. Using a logit model this study analyzed the impact of various consumer and marketing factors on attending farmers' markets. The estimation results suggest that middle-aged urban consumer, with farmers' markets within 10 miles of driving distance, with numbers of farmers' market around as more as possible, having information of farmers' market from newspaper, roadside sign or word of mouth, and being disappointed with the high prices of grocery is more likely to purchase farm products from farmers' market. The results of this research can be useful to decision markers in planning new farmers' markets in the area and developing effective marketing strategies to meet consumers' needs. The major findings of this study indicate what consumers prefer in a farmers' market and what farmers and operators of farmers' market should apply in the operation are: convenient location and regular open hours, local products with good quality, specialty products, competitive price, urban consumers segment target, promotion through suitable media.

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