Mid-Atlantic Specialty Crop Research Initiative plans workshop

January 30, 2009

University Park, Pa. — The Mid-Atlantic Specialty Crop Research Initiative Workshop, hosted by the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, is scheduled for March 3-4 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey in Harrisburg. Much has been done in planning the event where fruit and vegetable industry members, outreach personnel and researchers will assemble to discuss challenges, opportunities, and the vision for a fruit and vegetable network in the Mid-Atlantic.

Not only have the organizers set the agenda and begun to invite participants, but they have also conducted the first of four Internet surveys involving consumers residing in five metropolitan areas within the Mid-Atlantic region: Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. The surveys will determine the consumer attitudes and behaviors towards food purchases in the diverse metropolitan areas.

"Survey questions were developed to investigate factors influencing consumer purchasing decisions regarding fresh produce and value-added, processed products.  We are interested in the role and impact of increasing food prices, rising energy costs, and other economic factors currently affecting their household finances on these items," states Jeffrey Hyde, associate professor of agricultural economics at Penn State.

Hyde continues, "Other questions will help us examine concerns pertaining to food safety, quality, availability, variety, and affordability." By surveying consumers quarterly, it is possible to learn about changes over time to better forecast consumer responses to situations, such as further increases in energy costs and reoccurring food safety issues.

Survey responses obtained prior to the strategic planning workshop will be tabulated, summarized, and distributed in reports to workshop attendees. After the workshop, visitors will be able to go to Web at http://www.midatlanticspecialtycrops.com and read results of the remaining quarterly consumer research studies.  Results will also be made available to industry members through various methods of distribution such as trade journal articles, county and state-wide extension articles and bulletins, extension and association websites, and other applicable media.

Interested producers, processors, packers, marketers, brokers, wholesalers and distributors, retailers, restaurants, outreach personnel, and researchers from the Mid-Atlantic (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) should contact specialtycrops@psu.edu or (814) 863-5567 for more information and to receive future notices and updates.

The project is being funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, whose goal is to solve critical specialty crop agriculture issues, address priorities, and solve problems through multifunctional research and extension. For more information about the program, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov online.

Last Updated January 09, 2015