Quality attributes and socio-demographic factors affecting channel choices
Potato is an important staple food and horticultural crop for Argentina and it is included in almost every meal prepared by households. The annual average per capita consumption of potatoes is 40 kg. Despite the rapid rise of supermarkets, small fruit and vegetable shops still dominate horticultural retail in Argentina. The fresh potato quality is a wide and subjective notion that deals with different kinds of attributes e.g., colour, flavor, nutritional contents, added substances during the productive processes and risks perceptions. Commercial channel preferences, knowledge about varieties, and opinions regarding bad quality attributes are important factors affecting fresh potatoes consumers choices. The aim of this research is to examine how consumers perceive quality characteristics of fresh potatoes and to identify quality attributes and socio-demographics factors affecting channels choices for buying potatoes. A representative sample of the population in this city included 500 randomly selected households. The urban households survey was carry out in the city of Mar del Plata, in June 2009 using a questionnaire – based on face to face interviews. The principal place of respondents choosing to purchase fresh potatoes is the fruits and vegetables stores (72 %), followed in importance with much lower percentages by supermarkets / hypermarkets (15 %) and other channels, such as community fairs, wholesaler market, self-production and direct vegetable delivery by producer (12 %). In order to examine the relationship between preferences for certain quality attributes of fresh potato and socio-economic variables of households about their choice of purchase channel, we applied a multinomial logit regression (MNL). According to the econometric results, we can conclude that fruits and vegetables stores are preferred by decision maker buying fresh potatoes with brown skin colour, with knowledge about potato carbohydrate contribution, and having age under 55 years old. Also this channel is chosen, compared with the supermarkets / hypermarkets, by those consumers that consider price as an important factor when buying unpacked fresh potatoes.
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