- Education and Training: focus group
- Farm Business Management: marketing management
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community services, infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, public participation, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration
This report describes the results of focus groups conducted to better understand consumer support for local and organic foods. Focus groups provide an in-depth understanding of interest and concerns that are not achievable through more quantitative data collection methods. The information gained can serve as a catalyst for expanding existing or new sustainable agriculture projects, as well as help to inductively develop a model of factors associated with these foods.
A better understanding of the following guided the study:
1. Support for local agriculture;
2. Consumption of local and organic agricultural products; and
3. Perceived needs for developing sustainable food systems.
In Ohio and across the region, there is significant interest in alternative food systems. Alternative food systems are believed to have many beneficial outcomes such as building community amongst producers and consumers and improving the economic viability of farmers and farming regions. Despite this increased interest, few studies have explored consumer awareness and support of these systems and especially, differences in support across consumer groups. This project is timely due to a variety of new and practical initiatives aimed at developing local food systems. The results of this study can contribute to the success of these initiatives and shed light on new areas of importance.
The research project has several outcomes. The first is to engage a diversity of consumers in the discussion of sustainable agriculture. Most studies aim to assess attitudes of consumers already engaged in the consumption of these foods. This study compares those not particularly involved with those that are engaged in the consumption of local and organic foods. The focus groups will contribute to a better understanding of motivations or factors related to support for local and organic agriculture and consumption of these foods. The focus groups will also assist in better understanding the perceived needs for developing local food systems and will assist farmers interested in marketing their products in new and innovative ways and help them to identify opportunities to expand their markets into areas (or consumer segments)where there might be significant barriers.