Farmers's relationship with hospitality businesses: a preliminary study
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Numerous advantages exist for farmers as food producers and for restaurateurs as food sellers to be engaged in business relationships. While in many situations such relationships would seem a very “natural” process that would also benefit consumers, to date very little research has been conducted in examining the extent to which farmers are engaged in such relationships. The present paper aims to explore these areas from the farmers’ perspective. Semi-structured telephone interviews and two on-site face-to-face interviews were conducted among 30 farm owners/operators in the state of Alabama, USA. A very weak relationship was noticed between farms and hotels/restaurants in this study. While geographic distance or isolation could be assumed to be an impediment for both farms and hospitality businesses to interact, only two businesses mentioned such constraint as a reason for not engaging in business relationships. In contrast, not being contacted by hospitality businesses or not starting the contact, as well as concerns of not receiving the “right price”, or convenience by selling their produce by other means (on-site, farmers’ markets) were some of the reasons farmers mentioned. The low number of respondents and the selection of only those businesses that were advertised are acknowledged limitations in this study. Engaging in business relationships with restaurants may help farmers maximize the price they receive for their hard work, have a steady source for their product, or educate a new “breed” of consumers who value the importance of consuming fresher foods. To achieve these benefits, stronger interactions between both industries are needed, especially in cases where both restaurants and farms are geographically close to one another. The study investigates an area that has been neglected in contemporary research.