Are buyers willing to forgo quality in locally grown produce? | 5/20/2015 | Staff
roxy2707 (Posted by) Level 3
West Coast farms produce more than 90 percent of the broccoli consumed in the United States. With production mainly in California, and concentrated in Monterey County, this creates a food security issue, especially in light of California droughts in recent years, and long supply chains to the East Coast, according to Phillip Coles, professor of practice in management at Lehigh.

Because of this, in 2010, Cornell University-with funding from the U. S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Specialty Crops Research Initiative-began The Eastern Broccoli Project in an effort to create a high quality, year-round supply of Eastern-grown broccoli. The project was approved for an additional $5 million in USDA funding to fund the effort for another five years.

Part - Project - Plant - Breeders - Cornell

As part of the project, plant breeders at Cornell are developing strains of broccoli that can be grown successfully on the East Coast, the caveat being the new broccoli strains grown on the East Coast continue to have slightly different quality characteristics.

Coles, along with researchers from Cornell and the University of California, Davis, tested whether buyers would accept local, East Coast broccoli varieties, which do not have the bud and head uniformity and other quality traits exhibited by California-grown broccoli.

East - Coast - Abnormalities - Bud - Growth

East Coast summers-hot and humid-have been proven to cause structural abnormalities in broccoli: uneven bud growth, uneven bud size and uneven heads are a result of temperatures that exceed 86 degrees, typical during the summer months on the East Coast.

"There is much research on consumer willingness to pay for local produce, but very little on buyer sentiment concerning locally grown produce," said Coles, lead author on a recently published study, "Produce Buyer Quality Requirements to Form an Eastern Broccoli Industry").

Social - Health - Concerns - Demand - Food

Social, health and economic concerns have driven the demand for locally grown food exponentially. Local food sales in the United...
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