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The Case for Local Foods. Mid-Ohio Valley: Ag. Opportunities Conference Jeff S. Sharp, Ohio State University March 17, 2007. Ohio Survey Core Project of the SRI. Outline of Presentation. This is a dense presentation, informed by a lot of data

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The Case for Local Foods

Mid-Ohio Valley: Ag. Opportunities Conference

Jeff S. Sharp, Ohio State University

March 17, 2007


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Ohio SurveyCore Project of the SRI


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Outline of Presentation

  • This is a dense presentation, informed by a lot of data

  • Highlight 4 noteworthy themes from the 2006 Ohio Survey of Food, Agriculture & Environmental Issues

  • Discuss characteristics of 5 consumer types, characterized by their interest in organic or local

    • Also consider a motivated food consumer group as well

  • Concluding observations


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2006 Survey

  • Mail survey returned from 1,729 Ohioans

  • Response rate of 55%

    • Respondents compare favorably to known characteristics of Ohio population

      • A higher proportion of respondents were homeowners than is true of Ohio’s general population

    • Just over 3 percent of respondents resided on a farm



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#1: Must Prepare for Generational Transitions:Knowledge, participation & support of ag. consistently higher among older Ohioans






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Views of Farming Ohioans

  • Overall, farming positively contributes to the quality of life in Ohio

    • 2006: 88 percent agree or strongly agree

    • 2004: 90 percent

    • 2002: 92 percent


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Ag & Economy Ohioans

  • Ohio’s Economy will suffer if the state continues to lose farmers

    • 2006: 84 percent agree or strongly agree

    • 2004: 85 percent

    • 2002: 80 percent


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Views of Farmers Ohioans

  • I trust Ohio farmers to protect the environment

    • 2006: 63 percent agree or strongly agree

    • 2004: 67 percent

    • 2002: 60 percent


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Animal Welfare Ohioans

  • In general, increased regulation of the treatment of animals in farming is needed

    • 2006: 51 percent agree or strongly agree

    • 2004: 47 percent

    • 2002: 48 percent


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#3: Farmer-Nonfarmer Relationships Matter: OhioansVisiting with a farmer associated with increased support & reduced concerns(63% of Ohioans report having no conversations with farm household members)


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#4: Building Bridges to Nonfarmers—Participation in Farm & Rural “Recreation” Strongly Associated with Knowledge & Attitudes:Must be prepared for the consequence, though


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Participation in Rural/Farm Related Activities & Rural “Recreation” Strongly Associated with Knowledge & Attitudes:



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Research Context Motivated Consumer Study

  • Organic “industrialization” challenges some basic tenets of sustainable agriculture's vision

    • Decoupling of the link between organic and local

  • Research question

    • Who are the consumers that value the local and/or organic attributes?





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Why Consider Typologies Motivated Consumer Study

  • Understanding motivations behind consumption

  • Assist growers and retailers in understanding and developing their market

  • See Hartman Group for ongoing market research & Consumer Profiles


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Ohio Types, based on interest in Local & Organic Motivated Consumer Study

  • Disinclined (19.2%)—rate both local and organic as not important factors when making food purchases

  • Moderately inclined (35.7%)—rate organic and local as somewhat important considerations


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Ohio types (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Locally inclined (20.2%)—rate local as important, but not organic

  • Organically inclined (5.6%)—rate organic as important, but not local

  • Dual inclined (19.3%)—rate organic and local both as very important factors


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Frequency of purchasing local and organic foods by type Motivated Consumer Study(% indicating frequently)


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Willingness to Pay More Motivated Consumer Study(% indicating WTP 10% or more)


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Disinclined (19 percent) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Food safety:

    • Lowest level of concern about food safety

  • Health

    • Little agreement that organic foods are healthier than conventional

  • Demographics

    • Slightly higher proportion in Central and Southeast Ohio

    • Large proportion of suburbanites


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Moderately Inclined (36 percent) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Food safety:

    • Modest level of concern about food safety

  • Health

    • Modest agreement that organic foods are healthier than conventional

  • Attitudes about Farming/Farmers

    • Modest to low social linkages to farmers


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Organically Inclined (6 percent) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Food safety:

    • High concern about food safety

  • Health

    • Strong belief that organic foods are healthier than conventional

  • Demographics

    • Youngest, highest income, most educated

    • Largest proportion w/ children under 5 in the home


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Organically Inclined (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Attitudes about Farming/Farmers

    • Low level of trust of farmers to protect the environment

    • Relatively low rating of grown in Ohio attribute and modest rating of keeping a farmer in business

    • Fewest social ties to farmers


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Locally Inclined (20 percent) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Food safety:

    • Modest concern about food safety

  • Health

    • Little agreement that organic foods are healthier than conventional


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Locally Inclined (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Attitudes about Farming/Farmers

    • Strongest social linkages to farmers

    • High level of trust of farmers to protect the environment

    • High rating of grown in Ohio attribute and keep a farmer in business


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Locally Inclined (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Shopping Behaviors

    • 24% frequently shop at Farmer’s Market

    • Low frequency--member of food co-op or purchasing from a natural food grocer

  • Demographics

    • Slightly younger than state average, slightly higher income than state average

    • Slightly higher proportion of Northwest Ohioans


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Dual Inclined (19 percent) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Food safety:

    • Highest level of concern about food safety

  • Health

    • Strong agreement that organic foods are healthier than conventional

    • 82 percent indicate being health conscious


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Dual Inclined (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Attitudes about Farming/Farmers

    • Highest level of trust of farmers to protect the environment

    • Highest concern about the treatment of animals in farming

    • Very high rating of grown in Ohio attribute and of keeping a farmer in business


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Dual Inclined (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Shopping Behaviors

    • 34% frequently shop at Farmer’s Market

    • Relatively high frequency--member of food co-op or purchasing from a natural food grocer

  • Demographics

    • Much older on average, less educated, lower income

    • More common city or small town resident; also relatively higher frequency in southeast

    • Much more likely to be women



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Motivated Consumers Motivated Consumer Study

  • Mail survey of household of a relatively long-lived neighborhood food co-op located in Central Ohio

    • Sample was all household co-op members allowing address to be used for mailing purposes

    • 304 responses (74% response rate)

  • Conducted Winter/Spring 2005


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Motivated Consumers Motivated Consumer Study

  • Food safety:

    • High level of concern about food safety (~Dual)

  • Health

    • Near unanimous agreement that organic foods are healthier than conventional

    • Nearly all indicate being health conscious


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Motivated Consumers (cont.) Motivated Consumer Study

  • Shopping Behaviors

    • 33% frequently shop at Farmer’s Market (~Dual)

    • All members of food co-op

  • Demographics

    • Much younger, relative to average statewide respondent

    • Very highly educated (81% BA or more), Average income levels

    • Very liberal (all others types moderates)

    • 70% women


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Availability and Price Factors Motivated Consumer Study(% indicating very important factor)


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3 Concluding Observations Motivated Consumer Study


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#1: We find 2 broad classes of local food system supporters Motivated Consumer Study

Local only—strong interest in supporting farmers & Ohio farming

Local (& organic)—Health, environment, broader spectrum of food & farming attributes


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#2: Price & Convenience remain important to both local & dual inclined

Challenge of developing the local foods distribution infrastructure


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#3: Generational Transitions—challenge to both the local & dual sets

Local—growing social distance from farming

Dual—will younger be interested in cooking with whole foods?


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Questions? & dual sets

Contact Information:

Jeff S. Sharp

[email protected]

614-292-9410

http//.ohiosurvey.osu.edu


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