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‘Locally grown’ broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers

Thomas Björkman in broccoli field

“Demonstrating that consumers do value ‘locally grown,’ and that the seller gets latitude on price and appearance, are valuable selling points in getting distributors and retailers to take that risk,” Thomas Björkman said.

 

Cornell Chronicle [2019-12-16]:

In blind tests conducted by Cornell researchers, consumers rated a California broccoli tastier and better-looking than a pair of varieties grown in New York.

But the New York broccoli fared much better in a subsequent series of tests. It earned the highest marks for flavor and consumers were willing to pay more for it – on par with the California variety.

What changed?

The second group was told the New York broccoli was “locally grown” in New York state, where the tests were conducted. That information improved consumers’ perceptions of the broccoli and its value compared with the California alternative.

“If you don’t tell the consumers anything, they will penalize the looks and they will even penalize the taste,” said Miguel Gómez, associate professor at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. “But as soon as you tell them it’s local, it’s the other way around. They like it better – not only how it looks, but also how it tastes.”

Gómez and co-authors Xiaoli Fan, Ph.D. ’17, assistant professor at the University of Alberta, and Phillip Coles, M.S. ’15, professor of practice at Lehigh University, reported their findings in “Willingness to Pay, Quality Perception, and Local Foods: The Case of Broccoli,” published Oct. 4 in Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.

Thomas Björkman, Cornell professor of horticulture at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, and principal investigator for the Eastern Broccoli Project, served as project director for the experiments.

Read the whole article.

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