Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management

Major Professor

Ann E. Fairhurst

Committee Members

Carol A. Costello, Shirley W. Hastings, Youn-Kyung Kim, Dena K. Wise

Abstract

From farmers’ market booths to kitchen tables, demand for locally-produced foods has increased significantly over the last decade. Yet, despite increasing popularity of local foods, theoretically-based research of this topic has just begun.

This study fills this gap in literature and broadens the current research base by utilizing Value-Attitude-Behavior Theory to explore local foods purchasing in the farmers’ market channel. The impact of four values (food novelty, food safety, civic engagement, and environmental concern) on consumers’ attitudes regarding farmers’ market design perceptions, farmers’ market social perceptions, and local foods quality perceptions are examined. In turn, the impact of these attitudes on purchase intention and word-of-mouth communications is explored.

A web-based, self-administered survey was used in collecting data from a consumer panel of 485 respondents. Through statistical testing using SPSS, a demographic overview of the sample is provided. Additionally, through the use of AMOS and structural equation modeling, research hypotheses are tested.

Data analysis reveals all values significantly impact at least one attitudinal construct. The values of food novelty and food safety had the greatest influence positively impacting attitudes toward farmers’ market design perceptions and local foods quality perceptions. All three attitudinal constructs positively impacted consumers’ word-of-mouth communications regarding the farmers’ market. Additionally, attitudes toward farmers’ market social perceptions and local foods quality perceptions positively impacted consumers’ purchase intention. Consumers’ attitudes toward the quality of the local foods offered at the farmers’ market had the greatest influence on purchase intention and word-of-mouth communications.

The study concludes with a discussion of limitations as well as the potential of the limitations to serve as springboards for future research. Implications for local foods producers, farmers’ market managers, and Extension educators working with local foods producers and consumers are presented.

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