Assessment of Consumer Motivations to Attend Farmers' Markets, Their Preferences, and Their Willingness To Pay for Differentiated Fresh Produce: Three Essays
Increasing Consumer Demand The national per capita consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen at an increasing rate, up a total of 15% between 1987 and 2000 (283 lbs. in 1987 to 326 lbs. in 2000). Since 1987, the variety of fresh produce items offered by retailers has doubled (173 items in 1987 to 345 items in 1997) and branded items share of produce sales has more than doubled (7% in 1987 to 19% in 1997). Fresh-cut and packaged salad sales have risen even more substantially (1% in 1987 to 15% in 1997). These growth trends reflect increasing consumer demand for variety, quality, and convenience. There has also been an approximate three-fold increase in the share of sales by produce wholesalers to the foodservice channel over the same time period (8% in 1987 to 21% in 1997), reflecting the rise in food dollars spent in the foodservice/restaurant sector (approaching half of U.S. consumers’ total food dollars). This rising proportion of foodservice/restaurant sales is another reflection of consumer desire for convenience and value-added products.