The overall goal of the proposed project is to investigate promising market and new product opportunities for value-added food and agricultural businesses in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. <P>
In support of this goal, four project areas have been developed and the specific goals fot hese projects are as follows: <ol> <LI> To test the impact of new product characteristics on consumer attitudes and demand for Northwest food and agricultural products, and to aid the development of food businesses through investigation of market conditions (Marketing Economics). <LI> To undertake sensory and consumer tests that will provide specific food quality measurements that define consumer attitudes and demands for new and expanding markets (Sensory and Consumer Science). <LI> To work closely with small and medium-size food businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new food products based on Pacific Northwest agriculture using various traditional and novel processing techniques (Value-Added). <LI> To investigate innovative technologies in food processing and undertake research/outreach activities for full-chain traceability systems (Innovative Technologies). </ol> To best achieve these objectives, the Northwest Multicommodity Marketing Research Project will be conducted at the Food Innovation Center (FIC) during a period beginning August 1, 2010, and ending July 30, 2011. The FIC is a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency facility housing the listed cooperating scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) as well as public service professionals from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). <P>
The FIC provides food manufacturers and marketing entrepreneurs throughout the Northwest with an integrated and accessible set of research, education, support activities and resources. In each case, outreach and education are utilized to transmit the findings of the research projects to industry members. <P>
A guiding principle for research selection is its applicability to Northwest food products and the market situation of the product. With the many issues facing Northwest food businesses, there is a great demand on the FIC to assist market entrepreneurs and existing businesses in several areas, including bringing new or improved products to market, assessing the value of products as a whole in their packaging, credence, and quality aspects, as well as assessing the fundamental product itself. <P>
A new focus area of this Multicommodity Research Project will be to work closely with the industry in implementation of traceability systems to ensure safety and wholesomeness of Northwest food products.
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The Pacific Northwest has a high percentage of specialty crops that have been traditionally sold into commodity markets as undifferentiated products. Due to pressures from globalization, increased production, and energy costs, it is increasingly difficult for these crops to compete in commodity markets. There is also a growing consumer demand for high quality, value-added products from the Pacific Northwest that can compete effectively in both traditional and niche markets. Value-added processing and marketing of agricultural-based products offers considerable potential for expansion, economic growth and job creation. This project enhances competitiveness and expands the economic value-added component in Oregon agricultural products through research and outreach in food processing, product development, business strategy, marketing, and consumer testing. The Food Innovation Center Experiment Station (FIC) will conduct research to investigate consumer perceptions of product quality and value, support food processing and food product development and evaluate marketing and food industry strategies. Researchers at the FIC will also explore the use of emerging technologies in full-chain traceability systems to assure the safety and competitiveness of regional food products. The overall goal of the project is to investigate new opportunities for value-added food and agricultural businesses in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The specific goals will be: 1. To test the impact of new product characteristics on consumer attitudes and demand for Northwest food and agricultural products, and to aid the development of food businesses through investigation of market conditions. 2. To undertake sensory and consumer tests that will provide specific food quality measurements that define consumer attitudes and demands for new and expanding markets. 3. To work closely with small and medium-size food businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new food products based on Pacific Northwest agriculture using various traditional and novel processing techniques. 4. To investigate innovative technologies in food processing and undertake research/outreach activities for full-chain traceability systems. The underlying objectives in each of these areas will be accomplished by (a) conducting research that addresses specific issues or questions in marketing and business activities that currently face commodity groups and food businesses, (b) evaluating results and developing strategies and techniques that will enhance the success of existing food businesses and entrants, and (c) undertaking outreach to stakeholders though publications, workshops and personal communications. This integrated project will allow us to take a food systems approach in assisting new and established food businesses to meet the challenges of food and market innovation and economic sustainability. The objectives of this project should be accomplished within 1 year.
APPROACH: The approach to product value assessment will be based on how the information is to be used. Value may be assessed in conjunction with consumer ratings or selections of a product based on descriptive characteristics to determine premiums consumers are willing to pay for these characteristics. Econometric analysis will be used to measure value-added to products. In most instances product value assessment will occur in conjunction with the research of the food scientists at the Food Innovation Center (FIC). The in-house tests will be run by the FIC sensory staff at the testing laboratory, which offers state-of-the-art resources for conducting sensory and consumer tests and evaluations. The sensory team has developed a database of over 6,000 consumers in Portland, OR. Portland has a large population representing many groups with varied tastes. The database can be pre-filtered to represent the demographics of the whole country. Data will be collected using a computerized data collection system utilizing Compusense software. Each sample will be coded with randomized 3-digit numbers. Each product will be randomized and represented an equal number of times in the presentation design to prevent order effects. The products will be simultaneously rated for overall liking, appearance, flavor, and other intrinsic characteristics. A major is to work closely with small and medium-size food businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new food products based on Pacific Northwest agriculture using various traditional and innovative processing techniques. The proposed program will advance fundamental and applied knowledge about food, food processing, and product development. The experimental approaches that will be used to meet the specific objectives include pilot studies for Oregon and Pacific Northwest products. Products will be developed in pairs for use in willingness-to-pay analysis for different products. The FIC Product Development team has ten years of experience developing products with Northwest ingredients for small and mid-size food companies as well as specialty products for a wide range of projects. Over the past year these have including yogurts with Northwest fruits and nuts, energy bars, fruit drinks, sauces and desserts, among others. The research team will meet for three 2-hr sessions to brainstorm ingredient ideas for the products to be tested. The products will be tailor-made to match questions in the consumer survey. The needs and challenges of the food and agricultural industries in the Pacific Northwest for implementing full-chain traceability will be investigated. First, a trans-disciplinary team will be formed including university researchers and industry leaders from the region, along with traceability technology providers (hardware manufacturers, software developers, and system integrators) that have an interest in implementing full-chain traceability for the food industry in the Pacific Northwest and other regions. This team will communicate with Pacific Northwest growers, packers, and processors, and host a workshop based on full-chain traceability, where seminars and discussions on different traceability aspects will be provided.