Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Rucker, Jill

Committee Member/Reader

Cox, Casandra

Committee Member/Second Reader

Yancey, Janeal


Today’s grocery stores are filled aisle to aisle with an overwhelming variety of options for the consumer. In a consumer-driven market structure, the food industry has grown to encompass many niche markets which meet the ever changing demands of consumers. From organically produced food to more modern agriculture practices and even to finding non-meat protein alternatives, the options are endless. However, in the United States (a country with a higher level of disposable income compared to others), the question arises are customers educated about what the products truly are that they are spending a price premium on?

This study assessed the perceptions that college students have regarding the labeling terms organic and natural – specifically in regards to the poultry industry. Through a focus group interview process and administration of a brief survey questionnaire, data was collected surrounding the various perceptions. The collected data was analyzed using the constant comparative method and NVivo software to arrive at common themes amongst respondents.

The results found in general consumers believe organic and natural to be synonymous terms that are both equated to a “cleaner,” “healthier” product. Although most respondents placed heavy emphasis on the influence of price to their current buying decisions, if all three (organic, natural, and conventional) otherwise identical products were offered at the same price, they would gravitate towards either the organic or natural option.

After presenting respondents with the technical definitions, there was a shift away from natural products and a newfound interest in what other food labels mean. This solidified the importance for strengthened agriculture communication and proved consumers do like to be knowledgeable about their food, they just may not know where to find accurate information. Future research should evaluate broader demographic populations and look further into what methods of education would be most beneficial.


poultry, food labeling, organic, natural, poultry labeling