Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Rodolfo Nayga

Committee Member

Di Fang

Second Committee Member

Curt Rom

Keywords

Choice Experiment, Hydroponic, Organic, Willingness To Pay

Abstract

With continued advances in hydroponic plant production technology, an increasing number of farms have begun using hydroponic techniques to grow leaf lettuce and other food crops in a controlled environment. Recent controversy about the ongoing inclusion of hydroponics in the USDA organic program has highlighted uncertainty about marketing for hydroponic crops. In November 2017, the National Organic Standards Board voted not to recommend that hydroponic farms be banned from applying for organic certification. Since then, continued controversy has led a group of organic producers to start an additional independent certification program that would exclude hydroponic crops. While hydroponic production may provide benefits to producers, it is unclear how consumers currently perceive hydroponic production. This study used a non-hypothetical choice experiment with responses from 198 supermarket shoppers to estimate consumer willingness to pay for hydroponic and traditional lettuce both with and without organic certification. Randomized groups of shoppers were presented with one of three types of information about hydroponic production to determine if specific types of marketing might shift their attitudes and willingness to pay. The group of consumers not informed about hydroponic benefits required a significant discount to choose hydroponic lettuce, while groups that received positive information were indifferent between lettuce grown hydroponically or traditionally. In addition, providing information significantly improved attitudes toward the inclusion of hydroponics in the organic program.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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