Preserving farm freshness

Consumer preferences for local value-added products at urban farmers markets




Farmers Market, Value-Added Product, Local Food, Food Security, Food Choice, Urban Consumers


Farmers markets (FMs) are known for fresh fruits and vegetables, but many also feature shelf-stable, value-added products (VAPs) like sauces, jams, and fermented produce. Despite the potential impor­tance of locally sourced VAPs to FMs, farmers, and food-insecure communities, few if any studies have examined consumer preferences related to small-batch VAPs of the kind often prepared for sale at FMs. To address this gap in knowledge, this study presents the results of a collaboration between farmers, researchers, and a not-for-profit community kitchen in New Jersey. First, using the Food Choice Process Model as a framework, we conducted focus groups (four focus groups: 6-10 participants per group; 33 participants total) to gain insight into what would make locally sourced VAPs appealing to residents of food-insecure areas. Major themes that emerged were cost, quality, and health; less common themes included culture, food safety, and ethical values. Second, drawing on focus group data, we developed new VAPs—including tomato sauce, applesauce, hot pepper relish and pickled jalapeños—using ingredients from local farms. Third, we conducted controlled sensory evaluations to assess FM customer satis­faction with project-specific VAPs. Urban consum­ers (N=49) ranked a store-bought tomato sauce significantly higher on taste, sweetness, saltiness, and thickness, compared to the VAP version. However, VAP and store-bought applesauces were comparable across most attributes, and reactions to the hot pepper relish and pickled jalapeños were broadly positive. Overall, findings suggest that locally sourced VAPs tailored to the preferences of particular markets may constitute a valuable addi­tion to the local food landscape in food-insecure areas.

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Author Biographies

Virginia Quick, Rutgers University

PhD, RDN; Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics, Department of Nutri­tional Sciences

Lauren B. Errickson, Rutgers University

MS; Senior Program Administrator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Graham E. Bastian, Rutgers University

RDN; Doctoral Candidate, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Grace Chang, Rutgers University

BS; Research Assistant

Sarah Davis, Rutgers University

BS; Research Assistant

Anthony Capece, Elijah’s Promise

Associate Director; New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Ethan D. Schoolman, Rutgers University

PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Human Ecology



How to Cite

Quick, V., Errickson, L., Bastian, G., Chang, G., Davis, S., Capece, A., & Schoolman, E. (2022). Preserving farm freshness: Consumer preferences for local value-added products at urban farmers markets. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(2), 113–134.