Increasing Farmers Market Patronage: A Michigan Survey
Farmers markets can play an important role in enhancing farm profitability, particularly those farms choosing to differentiate their products by appealing to consumer preferences for â€œlocally grownâ€ food or gain a larger share of the food dollar by marketing directly to consumers rather than through wholesale markets. This paper reports results of a random state-wide telephone survey in Michigan which measured attitudes and behaviors surrounding farmers markets in order to better understand drivers of participation and expenditure. Questions were informed in part by a series of focus groups conducted throughout the state. Survey results find that about 60 percent of respondents report that they have attended a farmers market in the past year, spending on average $81 in their most recent visit. Comparisons of these figures to prior studies suggest a high degree of social desirability bias among respondents. Those placing high importance on food quality and support of local farmers tended to have a higher probability of participation and predicted expenditure. Major constraints to farmers market attendance include perceived lack of convenience and the lack of perceived welcoming atmosphere, especially among Latino respondents. Discussion centers around strategies market managers may take in the face of tradeoffs between possible confl icting desires for local food and convenience. We conclude with limitations, including a discussion of social desirability bias and future directions of research.
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