Are State Branded Products Local? A Case in Missouri

Training Attended

Food Distribution and Research Society Annual Meeting

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Pensacola FL

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Local food has received great interest from consumers, producers, and communities. Under this trend, all U.S. states have launched state-sponsored marketing programs and labels to help producers market their agricultural products locally, connect producers and consumers, encourage consumers to shop for local food and promote the local and state economy. Some examples are Jersey Fresh, Go Texan, and Colorado Grown. Missouri is one of these, where any producers can use the Missouri Grown logo as long as they pay a 50-dollar annual membership fee.

All states invested public funds for state-sponsored programs. The effectiveness of these programs partially depends on the consumers' awareness of the label and actual demand for the labeled products. Therefore, the knowledge of consumer familiarity with the state-branded labels, their preferences for the label, and their willingness to pay is crucial for policymakers and state-sponsored program managers. It will also provide helpful information for producers to participate in these programs.

Many studies consider that state-branded products are local food (Naasz, Jablonski, and Thilmany 2018; Nganje, Hughner, and Lee 2011). This study examines whether consumers consider State branded products local or treat the local and state-branded products differently, the degree of consumers’ familiarity with the state-sponsored label, and what kind of consumers are more familiar with the label using the case of Missouri. We also will investigate how consumers’ familiarity with the state brand affects their willingness to pay for the labeled products. To our knowledge, limited studies explored consumers’ preferences for local and state-branded products. This paper fills the gap.

An online consumer survey was conducted through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) in 2021 for Missouri consumers. Totally, 343 valid respondents have received. Descriptive and econometric modeling will be used to determine consumers’ definitions of local food, their differentiation between local and Missouri Grown products, and how their definitions affect their willingness to pay for state-branded products. Policy and marketing implications will be drawn based on the research findings.

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