Florida consumers see value in and are willing to pay more for locally-grown products, especially when it comes to landscape and ornamental plants, according to a new study conducted by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member Hayk Khachatryan.
Khachatryan, who leads the Consumer Behavior & Insights Lab at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, conducted a rating-based experiment and eye tracking measures with Florida consumers to understand what they think of local plant production, how likely they are to purchase local plants, and their opinions on the Fresh from Florida promotional signs.
“The Fresh from Florida brand really is an underutilized resource for the landscape and ornamental nursery industry,” Khachatryan said. “Consumers see value in the label and are willing to pay higher prices for plants with that label. That is profit that could be passed directly onto growers.”
Khachatryan found that consumers were willing to pay $7.17 to $7.22 more for plants with the Fresh from Florida logo compared to imported plants, which is slightly higher than the $5.42 to $5.48 more they are willing to pay for domestically grown plants when compared to imported ones.
Recently, the Fresh from Florida campaign expanded its commodity scope to include landscape and ornamental plants. A low number of growers have opted for certifying their products as Fresh from Florida so far, but Khachatryan is hoping this research will help the state’s growers utilize the program and increase their profits.
“Consumers ranked buying local plants as important because they believed it creates more jobs in the local community, and because more money stays in the local community,” Khachatryan said. “Florida ornamental growers and nurserymen need to capitalize on this finding and label their products as from Florida.”
In addition to seeing benefits to the local community, consumers perceived purchasing local plants as beneficial to the local economy, having a lower environmental impact, and as having higher quality and longer shelf-life than plants produced elsewhere.
“We hope that Florida ornamental growers and nurserymen will take advantage of these findings and get involved with the Fresh from Florida campaign,” Khachatryan said.