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Aligning Consumer Demand, Agricultural Industry Resources and Research and Education to Service Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Markets

Investigators
Kelley, Kathleen
Institutions
Pennsylvania State University
Start date
2008
End date
2009
Objective
I. Broad problem specification:
  1. Project directors and collaborators will network with stakeholders and interested institutes, associations, and organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region to develop a sense of the food industry's major challenges, establish a leadership role in the strategic planning event.
  2. Design a pre-workshop survey and ask all workshop invitees to participate to identify food industry issues (e.g. food safety, quality, availability, variety, and affordability, increasing food prices, rising energy costs and other economic factors) that currently are or could impact the profitability of edible specialty-crops and value-added, processed products.
II. Food System workshop:
  1. Assemble food industry members, outreach personnel, and researchers to discuss current factors influencing consumer food purchasing behavior and the behavior's implicit impact on the direction of the food industry in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  2. Document issues discussed during the strategic planning workshop and charge committees with further developing action plans.
  3. Disseminate strategic planning workshop information.
  4. Conduct quarterly consumer research to determine consumer attitudes and behaviors towards food purchases.
III. Prepare research and extension proposals based on workshop outcomes:
  1. Investigate the practicality of designing a computer-based decision support system (expert system) for marketing edible-specialty crops.
  2. Prepare a 2009 USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) proposal to support the goal of improving the availability and profitability of edible specialty-crops and value-added, processed products in the Mid-Atlantic region through a Mid-Atlantic Food Systems Network.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: This strategic planning effort will assemble edible specialty-crop producers, processors, packers, marketers, brokers, wholesalers and distributors, retailers, restaurants; outreach personnel; and researchers from the Mid-Atlantic region to discuss strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the food industry in the region. Issues that currently are or could impact the profitability of edible specialty-crops and value-added, processed products will be identified through a pre-workshop survey and during a two-day strategic planning event to take place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in March 2009. Workshop activities will encourage improved communication and interaction among industry representatives. Consumer-research data will be collected quarterly, for one year, from residents in metropolitan areas in the Mid-Atlantic region with the goal of informing participants about consumer food purchasing attitudes and behaviors. Workshop committees, comprised of a cross-section of participants, will be formed and charged with developing action plans to provide solutions to the challenges and opportunities impacting the Mid-Atlantic food industry. Outcomes will be disseminated through a monthly e-mail newsletter; published on an open-access website; and submitted in a report to the USDA CSREES. A primary objective of this endeavor will be to serve as the foundation for developing a Mid-Atlantic Food Systems Network through the submission of a 2009 USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative research proposal to address the expressed needs of farm producers, markets, and consumers of the region. As part of the Network, resources will be sought to investigate the practicality of designing a computer-based decision support system (expert system) for marketing edible-specialty crops.

APPROACH: Project directors will assemble food industry members, outreach personnel, and researchers to discuss current factors influencing consumer food purchasing behavior and the behavior's implicit impact on the direction of the food industry in the Mid-Atlantic region during a two-day strategic planning workshop, to be held in Harrisburg, PA and tentatively planned for March 2009. A pre-workshop survey will be sent to participants in order to identify food industry issues that currently are or could impact the profitability of edible specialty-crops and value-added, processed products. Workshop participants will develop and rank a set of short-term and long-term goals and assist in: 1) designing strategies to achieve the defined goals and 2) develop an outline or draft of an action plan. A monthly e-mail newsletter will be sent to participants to provide them with a workshop summary and to provide them with committee updates. A website will be developed to serve as a resource for participants and other individuals interested in learning about the strategic planning activities. In addition, a comprehensive workshop report will be written and submitted to the USDA CSREES. To assist participants with understanding consumer attitudes and behaviors towards food purchases, an Internet survey will be conducted quarterly and will involve consumers residing in five metropolitan areas within the Mid-Atlantic region: Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. Survey questions will investigate factors influencing consumer purchasing decisions regarding fresh produce and value-added, processed products: increasing food prices, rising energy costs and other economic factors currently impacting their household, food safety, quality, availability, variety, and affordability. Data will also be made available to other industry members through various methods of distribution: trade journal articles, county and state-wide extension articles and bulletins, extension and association websites, and other outlets as deemed necessary. Information collected from attendees during the pre-workshop survey and during the strategic planning event, along with consumer-research data collected quarterly, will be used to help develop future proposals to investigate the viability of an on-line expert system for fruit and vegetable producers. Users who access this decision making tool will be able to better identifying viable options for their businesses by answering a series of questions and statements. Users can also print a copy of their responses to questions and an explanation of how the information helped determine viable options for their products and business. A 2009 USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) proposal will be submitted to support the goal of improving the availability and profitability of edible specialty-crops and value-added, processed products in the Mid-Atlantic region through a Mid-Atlantic Food Systems Network. Potential researchable ideas are likely to pertain to production, pest control, processing, supply chain management, food safety and quality, and consumer and marketing research issues.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
PEN04285
Accession number
216162
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Food Defense and Integrity