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Auburn economists: Shoppers willing to pay more for Alabama grown products

A research team from Auburn University recently partnered with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries to gauge shoppers preferences for goods, particularly sweet potatoes, grown in Alabama versus those grown outside the state.

The study, which utilized the statewide agricultural label Sweet Grown Alabama for analysis, was conducted at five farmers markets in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Baldwin County.

Joshua Duke, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology at Auburn, discussed why the study matters to Alabama.

“This study is significant not just for farmers in our state, but particularly for the fruit and vegetable growers we meet at the farmers markets and whose labels we see in our local stores,” he said. “The goods they provide us are extremely valuable to the people of our communities, and that is reflected in our research.”

For the study, 100 participants were asked the maximum amount they would be willing to pay for four differently labeled, but otherwise comparable, baskets of sweet potatoes.

The labels on the baskets were described as being from:

  • A farm that is located in the US but not in Alabama farm in Mississippi
  • A farm in Alabama
  • A farm in Alabama that carries the Sweet Grown Alabama label

The research team found that the average maximum amount that consumers would be willing to pay ranges from $4.09 for sweet potatoes labeled as being from a farm in the US but outside of Alabama to $6.70 for the basket of sweet potatoes from a Sweet Grown Alabama farm.

The leading reasons for the preference in Alabama grown products in order included:

  • Support for local farmers
  • Product quality
  • Support for local economy
  • Increased health benefits
  • Food safety
  • Minimization of environmental impact

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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