• Journal of Food & Nutritional Sciences
Research Article

Rural Alabama Grocery Store Shoppers’ Acceptance, Beliefs, and Intention to Purchase Organically Grown Squash (Cucurbita pepo L.)

Journal of Food & Nutritional Sciences [2024; 5(1): 21-57]
Received: 22 February 2024, Accepted: 19 March 2024, Published: 27 January 2024

Limited research has focused on organic food knowledge, availability, preference, beliefs, and consumption by consumers in Southeast America. This study assessed consumer acceptance of three organically grown squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) varieties and also the shopping behaviours, beliefs, knowledge levels, awareness, utilization, and purchase intent for organic food products among grocery store shoppers in Macon and Lee counties, Alabama. Three study sites in the two counties were identified: two in Macon County and one in Opelika, Lee County. Consumers (N = 209) evaluated the three squash varieties for specific attributes and overall preference, using a nine-point hedonic scale. An organic food frequency survey (Org-FQ) was administered to 300 consumers at the three study sites to evaluate consumers’ demographics, shopping habits, beliefs, knowledge, awareness, usage, and intent to purchase organic foods. The findings revealed that the degrees of liking for the overall preference of the samples were significantly (P< 0.05) lower at one site than the others. Taste, texture, and appearance squash were also acceptable to all the consumers. Results for the Organic Food Questionnaire revealed that consumers in both counties wanted to learn more about organic foods and had a desire to consume organic food. However, there was a greater preference for organic foods among participants in Macon County. Consumers in Macon County were also willing to pay a higher price for organic food than those in Lee County. These findings could pave the way for targeted strategies, bolster organic farming efforts, increase consumer knowledge and utilization while stimulating economic growth in the region simultaneously.

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