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Florida consumers prefer “Fresh from Florida” plants

 

Various Fresh from Florida labeling upon orange juice and citrus containers.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label, according to a new survey by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist.

In the survey, summarized in a UF/IFAS Extension document, 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association to include horticulture plants in the state’s “Fresh from Florida” campaign.

Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, co-authored the document with his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn. As part of a larger study, they wrote the document after surveying 301 Florida horticultural plant consumers in June and July 2014 in Orlando and Gainesville.

Participants viewed images of plants and rated their likelihood of purchasing the plants on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being very unlikely and 7 being very likely. The images of plants included attributes such as plant type, price, production method and origin, Khachatryan said. After looking at the plant images, participants completed an online questionnaire containing background, preference and demographic questions.

“With increasing market potential due to consumer interest in local foods, state marketing promotion campaigns are becoming increasingly popular,” Khachatryan said. “However, relatively less is known about the about the effects of such promotions on consumer preferences for ornamental plants. The key finding of this research is that the Florida state marketing promotion program logo positively impacted consumers’

purchase likelihood. The main implication of our finding is that producers and retailers could take steps to improve consumer awareness of the promotional program, which in turn, would help to increase sales.”

Of the respondents, 70 percent defined local products as those being grown within their county and neighboring counties. Local plants that held the most interest for consumers were local perennials, vegetable plants, herbs, Florida annuals and ornamental plants.

“It is imperative to understand consumer perceptions of local plants and how those perceptions affect consumer purchasing behavior,” according to the Extension document. “A better understanding of consumer perceptions of ‘local’ provides opportunities to design relevant marketing materials highlighting the perceived benefits of buying local products.”

Consumers said they valued plant quality the most, but they were also interested in environmentally friendly, lower-priced plants.

“The majority of Florida consumers consider ‘Fresh from Florida’ horticultural plants local,” Khachatryan said. Growers, marketers and retailers can use consumers’ positive perception of local plants to increase sales from media promotions of the ‘Fresh from Florida logo.’ ”

To view the document in the Electronic Data Information Source, click on http://bit.ly/1U9rwFI.

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Caption: Florida consumers prefer plants with the label “Fresh from Florida,” according to survey by UF/IFAS researchers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State. Hayk Khachatryan, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, conducted the survey with post-doctoral research associate Alicia Rihn. Seen above is the “Fresh from Florida” label on a juice container.

Credit: UF/IFAS file.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Hayk Khachatryan, 407-410-6951; hayk@ufl.edu