Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Plant and Environmental Science
Juan Carlos Melgar
This study utilized an online survey administered to South Carolina (SC) consumers in conjunction with a discrete choice modeling approach to examine: i) the knowledge and degree of familiarity with both the USDA Certified Organic and the Certified Naturally Grown labels, ii) the impact of several factors including demographic characteristics, purchasing behaviors, and frequency of organic consumption on consumer’s preferences and Willingness to Pay (WTP) for organic products in South Carolina. This study also includes a Meta-Analysis of WTP for organic products. The first chapter analyzes familiarity of two different labels; USDA Certified Organic and the Certified Naturally Grown. This is achieved by utilizing a Bivariate Ordered Probit model in combination with a Tukey Kramer test. The results indicate that demographic characteristics, and lifestyle preferences have a statistically significant effect on consumer’s familiarity of the USDA Certified Organic and the Certified Naturally Grown labels. However, divergences remain. For example, findings indicate that older consumers are less likely to be familiar with the USDA Certified Organic label as well as the Certified Naturally Grown label but those who spend more time cooking are more likely to be familiar with the USDA Certified Organic label. Similarly, respondents who live in the Lowcountry region of SC are less likely to be familiar with the USDA Certified Organic Label. Respondents who have graduate degrees or higher are less likely to be familiar with the Certified Naturally Grown Label but those respondents who shop for produce at health food stores or farmers markets are more likely to be familiar with the Certified Naturally Grown label. The second chapter investigates the impact of different attributes of tomatoes on consumer WTP. This is attained using a choice experiment coupled with the analysis tool of the mixed logit model. The findings indicate consumers have a significant and positive WTP for tomatoes purchased at a grocery store and at farmers markets compared to purchasing tomatoes online. Respondents also have a significant and positive WTP for tomatoes grown in South Carolina vs. Canada. The price premium for organic tomatoes grown in South Carolina is $0.25 compared to the WTP for organic tomatoes grown in the U.S. is only $0.15. These findings have important marketing implications as competition in the organic produce industry increases. It can assist the industry to better target their marketing endeavors and better understand the factors influencing consumer preferences. The third chapter is a meta-analysis which looks at different international WTP studies focusing on different products from 2005 to 2020 and compares the different WTP estimates to derive a common WTP estimate. The results indicate that the WTP estimate that was derived is $3.75/lb. to $3.80/lb. across the different products and countries.
Ratliff, English Lane, "Consumer Preferences for Value Added Products: A Case Study for South Carolina" (2021). All Dissertations. 2770.