What do local foods consumers want?

Lessons from ten years at a local foods market


  • Matthew J. Mariola The College of Wooster
  • Adam Schwieterman Local Roots Market
  • Gillian Desonier-Lewis The College of Wooster https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4517-961X




Consumers, Cooperatives, Food Hub, Local Food, Local Market, Retail Sales


The local foods movement is now firmly en­trenched in the public imagination and as a feature of the larger food economy. With the most recent wave of local food retail markets now in its second decade, scholarly attention has turned to the fac­tors that correlate with success, yet we know very little about local food consumer purchasing pat­terns. In this study, we examine a comprehensive database of all food sales spanning ten years at a pioneering local food market in Wooster, Ohio. Analysis of over 1 million sales data points reveals a number of interesting trends: there are predict­able seasonal patterns in the rise and fall of sales at the market; there is a notable increase over time in the proportion of sales accounted for by takeaway foods produced in the market’s commercial kitchen; co-op members spend more on average per visit than nonmember customers. A success­ful market needs a balance between a small number of large-volume producers, who dominate sales with a handful of products, and a deep pool of smaller-volume producers, who bring a diversity of products to the market shelves. We conclude with a series of points that are of use to local food scholars, practitioners, and policy advocates.


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Author Biographies

Matthew J. Mariola, The College of Wooster

Associate Professor, Environmental Studies

Adam Schwieterman, Local Roots Market

Executive Director

Gillian Desonier-Lewis, The College of Wooster

Research Assistant, Environmental Studies Program



How to Cite

Mariola, M., Schwieterman, A., & Desonier-Lewis, G. (2022). What do local foods consumers want? Lessons from ten years at a local foods market. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(3), 211–227. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.113.011