Study Confirms Consumers Will Pay More For Local Food

A recent study conducted by Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management found that restaurant patrons are willing to pay more for meals made from local produce and meats. The goal of the study was to examine how customers perceive and value locally produced meals when they have a higher price than food prepared using non-local ingredients.

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According to a press release, researchers first set prices for both local dishes and those prepared with non-local ingredients on the student-run restaurant’s menu at $5.50. When the price was the same for both dishes, customers showed no preference for one over the other. But, when the local dish was priced higher at $6.50, more customers chose the meal with local ingredients, said Amit Sharma, assistant professor, School of Hospitality Management at Penn State.

“We literally put the customers in the situation and let them choose,” Sharma said. “Then we asked them why they made the choices they did.”

Nila Cogan with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau said the study’s results didn’t surprise her. “For a few bucks, people are willing to pay for that freshness and knowing where the food is coming from,” she said. “You’re helping the local economy. The money goes right back into our local economy here for the local farmer.”