What do local foods consumers want?
Lessons from ten years at a local foods market
Keywords: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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Copyright (c) 2022 Matthew J. Mariola, Adam Schwieterman, Gillian Desonier-Lewis
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