Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

FOREWORD: Special Issue on the Economics of Local Food Markets

Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

FOREWORD: Special Issue on the Economics of Local Food Markets

Article excerpt

In October 2010, Walmart announced that it would be doubling its offerings of locally grown produce within its extensive network of retail stores. Other more traditional grocery chains, such as Safeway, Kroger, and Wegmans, have followed suit, touting their own local offerings. In each case, these retailers claim that local food sources may reduce costs, increase the quality and freshness of produce, and reduce the carbon emissions due to transportation. However, local foods (and produce in particular) may be available only within a narrow season of the year. These changes come about ostensibly in response to pressure from consumer groups concerned with issues of environmental sustainability. It is unclear how this reshaping of the food supply chain will impact farmers, consumers, and retailers.

The first four articles within this issue were originally presented as part of the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association's workshop on the Economics of Local Food Markets, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in June 2010. The goal of this workshop was to highlight current research and bring together researchers, extension educators, private sector participants, and policymakers to exchange ideas and develop a common set of priority research and education needs for local food systems. The workshop included both prominent invited speakers (the paper of invited speaker Carolyn Dimitri appeared in the October 2010 issue) and several contributed papers. These four papers represent a cross section of the views presented.

Kathryn Onken, John Bernard, and John Pesek, Jr., use experimental methods to examine the impact of state programs to market organic, natural, and locally grown foods on consumer valuation. Each of the five states included in their analysis have ongoing promotional programs (Jersey Fresh, PA Preferred, Grown Fresh with Care in Delaware, Virginia's Finest, Maryland's Best). The authors find substantial consumer preference for local foods, though no detectable preference for organic over other natural foods. The strength of preference for local foods was much higher among farmers market patrons than those of retail grocery stores.

William Nganje, Renée Hughner, and Nicholas Lee use survey methods to address consumer willingness to pay for locally grown or state-branded produce, focusing on issues of food safety and traceability. …

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