Research on ethnic greens and herbs to be presented at workshop

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Growth in minority populations in the United States is providing opportunities for the specialty-crop industry on the East Coast to fill the rising demand created by ethnically diverse consumers. To help agricultural producers and others to tap into these markets, researchers and extension staff from four land-grant universities will hold a one-day workshop on March 3 in Valley Forge.

The workshop grows out of a project supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by Rutgers University. Funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the effort also includes personnel from Penn State, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Florida.

The project is designed to assess demand and investigate production feasibility for select ethnic greens and herbs important to Chinese, Asian Indian, Mexican and Puerto Rican consumers, according to workshop planner Kathy Kelley, professor of horticultural marketing and business management in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Minorities now make up almost 35 percent of the nation's population, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that together Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders will exceed the number of non-Hispanic whites by 2042," Kelley said. "For growers, this demographic information will almost certainly mean an increased demand for ethnic produce.

"An objective of this project is to share production and marketing research outcomes with growers, brokers/distributors, wholesalers, retailers, associations and organizations, and extension and research personnel who currently serve these ethnic audiences."

At the workshop, faculty members and extension specialists from the four participating universities and other institutions will share research results from both production and marketing studies. Sessions will help attendees to better understand demographic trends, consumer perceptions and other factors that drive the ethnic greens and herbs market.

In addition, growers and industry representatives will share their perspectives and describe their experiences with growing, sourcing and marketing ethnic greens and herbs.

Workshop attendees will not be charged a fee to attend and space is limited. USDA grant funds will cover attendees' lodging for the night of March 2 (based on double occupancy), meals during the conference March 3 and workshop written materials.

For more information or to request registration for the workshop, contact Dana Ollendyke by email at

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Last Updated February 17, 2014