Farmers' involvement in value-added produce: The case of Alabama growers
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Purpose – For many farmers across the USA the opportunity to sell their produce directly to the public in different ways allows them to avoid middle-men and often reap higher benefits that are vital for their survival. However, to what extent do they fully maximise their produce? For instance, do farmers consider developing value-added products when they have fruit or vegetable leftovers, or those with blemishes? The present paper aims to explore involvement in value-added food production from the growers' standpoint. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected via telephone and face-to-face interviews among 30 farm owners located in the state of Alabama. Findings – While the large majority of participating farmers (93.3 per cent) are involved in selling produce directly to the public, only 33.3 per cent are currently maximising their produce left-overs, or unsellable produce by developing and marketing value-added products such as jellies, jams and ice-creams. Almost one fourth of farmers (23.3 per cent) would consider developing value-added products. However, the lack of a commercial kitchen, a potentially considerable investment, is one significant barrier preventing the development of value-added products. Research limitations/implications – Choosing only farmers that are already involved in retailing their own produce, and their low number (30) are limitations that may not allow for making generalisations of the study's findings. Practical implications – In times where the threat of food crises is latent, the ability for food growers to maximise their harvests becomes critical. Because farm operators play a significant role in providing food for society at large, they should be accordingly supported to maximise their produce, including through the development of value-added products. Originality/value – The study provides a different view of value-added produce, investigating this dimension from the farmers' viewpoint.