Promotion of sustainably produced foods: Customer response in Minnesota grocery stores

Ramona Robinson, Chery Smith, Helene Murray, Jim Ennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study assesses consumer perceptions of sustainably produced foods and evaluates whether a supermarket point-of-purchase intervention could increase shoppers' awareness of a campaign designed to promote purchases of sustainably produced foods. The in-store intervention involved the promotion of sustainably produced apples labeled with the Midwest Food Alliance's (MWFA) seal of approval. Minnesota consumers were surveyed at two eastern metropolitan area intervention stores and one eastern metropolitan area comparison store. The in-store campaign lasted 8 weeks and involved individually labeled apples, point-of-purchase materials, and weekly food demonstrations. Prior to campaign initiation, baseline surveys were administered to consumers in two test stores and one comparison store. Follow-up surveys were mailed to these same consumers upon conclusion of the campaign intervention. Independent samples t-tests comparing change from baseline to post intervention indicated that a statistically higher percentage of consumers in the test-market group had heard of the Midwest Food Alliance campaign. Furthermore, a statistically higher percentage of the test-market shoppers reported seeing signs and labels promoting the MWFA, indicating that the promotion had some impact. Baseline data gathered from all consumers indicated that foods produced with sustainable practices were important to consumers; however, food characteristics of freshness, taste, safety and healthfulness were most important. The majority of consumers reported that they would be willing to pay 10-30% more for selected sustainably produced foods. Research results indicated that an 8-week in-store intervention was effective at increasing consumer awareness of the MWFA. However, a more powerful intervention (including a longer promotion period with more labeled foods) may be needed to induce shoppers to increase their purchases of sustainably produced foods promoted by the MWFA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Alternative Agriculture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Alternative agriculture
  • Consumer attitudes
  • Consumer behavior
  • Food marketing
  • Labeled foods
  • Organic foods
  • Point-of-purchase


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