Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

How Do the Perceived Barriers, Attitudes, and Knowledge of Grocery Store Personnel Affect Availability of Organic Food Products?

Author

Rachel Adams

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Business Administration

First Advisor

Yunhee Chang

Second Advisor

Tanya Ruetzler

Third Advisor

Teresa Carithers

Abstract

Organic food is one of the fastest-growing segments of food production and consumption in the U.S. Even though organic foods are becoming more widely available, some studies suggest they may not be equally available to all populations because people in some areas are being excluded from the organics market either geographically or financially. The purpose of this study was to examine how individual and local characteristics affect the attitudes of grocery store personnel toward organic food products and how these attitudes affect availability. Grocery store personnel were surveyed about their attitudes toward organic foods, their perceptions of the barriers to offering organic foods, their knowledge of organic foods, and the availability of organic foods in their stores. The survey data was then matched to contextual statistics about the local environment from the USDA's Food Environment Atlas based on the store locations. Multi-variate regression analyses were conducted to determine which individual, store, and county characteristics influenced store personnel attitudes and how their attitudes influenced the availability of organic foods at their stores. The results showed that store type was a strong predictor of attitudes, especially regarding perceived barriers and customer demand. Out of the types of stores examined, personnel from natural/gourmet food stores reported lower perceived barriers and more positive attitudes about customer demand, and personnel from convenience stores reported higher perceived barriers and more negative attitudes about customer demand. Among the county-level characteristics, relative price of milk and percentage of white residents proved to be the strongest predictors of attitudes toward organics. Attitude toward customer demand for organic products was the strongest positive predictor of availability, while perceived barriers had the strongest negative correlation. This is a logical conclusion, and it supports previous findings that organics are more likely to be made available if store managers perceive barriers to be low and customer demand to be high. Other significant findings about availability were that younger age and white race are correlated with greater availability of organic products. There was also a strong negative association between convenience stores and organic availability.

Concentration/Emphasis

Marketing

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