FRE undergraduate Wyatt Basen was recognized with the Scholarship Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research on Food Distribution and Marketing at the Food Distribution Research Society annual conference on Monday, Oct. 24th.
Basen, a senior undergraduate student with a concentration in agribusiness, received the reward in recognition of research conducted on consumer perceptions of specialty meat products with advisors Dr. John Lai and Dr. Bachir Kassas. The goal of his research was to provide insights into the potential market opportunities for lamb and goat meat products in Florida that would assist agribusiness decision-makers in the industry.
“Consumers in the United States are increasingly choosing to select food with greater environmental and health benefits, which can foster economic spaces for emerging markets,” Basen said. “In this study, the perceptions of consumers are observed directly using surveying techniques and provide more information about their willingness to pay for the emerging market for goat and sheep meat and associations with several cultural, socioeconomic, and psychological perceptions. These food attitudes, perceptions, and consumer behaviors towards environmentally friendly and healthier meat consumption choices will be critical in the development of this emerging market and drive the production decisions that livestock producers make in their operations.”
Basen said his interest in food consumer trends began when he started growing fruit and selling it himself to friends and family and grew during his time as a retail produce worker for Southeastern Grocers.
“Wyatt is a highly motivated student who has demonstrated a noteworthy eagerness to challenge himself and acquire new skills, specifically related to engaging in research activity early in his academic career,” Lai said. “With unique experiences in the food retail sector driving much of his intellectual curiosity, his background in food system offered many insightful perspectives; he was able to develop a series of questions to be included in a data collection effort that examined consumer preferences and attitudes related to purchasing decisions around specialty livestock products.”
Upon graduation, Basen hopes to continue his work toward understanding the consumer decision-making process. He said working with Drs. Lai and Kassas during his time at UF strengthened his interest in performing research and better equipped him to continue in a career pursuing social science research.
“Wyatt is a very bright undergraduate student with an exceptional intellectual curiosity and work ethic,” Kassas said. “Over the past year, he has worked really hard to acquire advanced skills in marketing and consumer research. He already developed significant experience in all stages of the scientific research process and has produced high-quality work that presents valuable insights to the lamb and goat meat industry.”
To receive the Food Distribution Research Society (FDRS) Scholarship Award, Basen’s research paper was reviewed by members of the society and judged against other highly competitive submissions. The FDRS, made up of professionals and members of academia across the field of agricultural economics and beyond, is a preeminent organization in leading the progress of applied research and education in the food distribution field.
“The conference provided an excellent platform for me to observe and compare my research to others and allowed me to consider different methods of research to apply in the future,” Basen said. “Being recognized as an undergraduate researcher in such high regard was unfathomable to me prior to receiving the award from FDRS. Now that I have been recognized, it induces me to strive to produce even greater work. I could not be more grateful for FDRS and, of course, the mentors that helped me reach such an achievement.”