PRICE COMPETITIVENESS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AT LOCAL FOOD RETAIL OUTLETS IN ALL SEASONS OF THE YEAR.
popularity of farmers' markets has resulted in conflicting messages about the most
healthful way to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Federal dietary guidance promotes
all forms without distinction, whereas some supporters for locally grown food say that
freshly harvested, whole produce is best. Advocates of local food outlets further state
that the outlets offer fresh items ... read morethat are less expensive, in season, than those sold
at traditional supermarkets. If such claims are substantiated, the outlets could serve
as important tools to boost Americans' sub-optimal fruit and vegetable consumption. Yet,
neither has been sufficiently studied. This dissertation aims to improve future policy
and educational efforts to promote fruit and vegetable intake by informing evaluation of
these "fresh is best" and "local food costs less" messages. The first article in this
dissertation describes a novel method for categorizing National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey (NHANES) dietary recall data by fruit and vegetable processing form.
The mean sodium, added sugar, and fiber contents of produce in each form are compared.
The article also reports estimates of the contribution of fresh, processed, juice and
miscellaneous forms of produce to total fruit and vegetable intake. The sodium content
was highest for miscellaneous vegetables (e.g. salsa), followed by processed and juice
forms, respectively. Processed fruit had the most added sugar. Fresh items made up the
largest share of fruit and vegetable intake (61.2% and 48.1%, respectively), followed by
fruit juice (31.2% of fruit) and processed vegetables (23.3% of vegetables). Older and
higher income respondents consumed significantly more produce in fresh form, but less
from fruit juice and processed vegetables. The second article presents comparisons of
prices for 29 fruits and vegetables at North Carolina farmers' markets, roadside stands,
and supermarkets. It improves upon previous research by increasing representativeness of
the sample, selecting fruits and vegetables based on consumption share, and including
non-fresh forms of produce. Three fruits and one vegetable were cheaper at a local
outlet; four vegetables were cheaper at supermarkets. The remaining items showed no
difference. The significance of differences among outlets or processing forms was
affected by weighting prices by consumption share. The third article presents prices for
the 29 studied fruits and vegetables in all four seasons of the year, by outlet type.
Analyses examine whether the outlet types experience similar seasonal price patterns and
whether the outlet types prove price competitive in all seasons. Significant price
differences between supermarkets and local retail outlets in mean price and in the
magnitude of price change between seasons occurred in 31% and 18% of comparisons,
respectively. No outlet type demonstrated consistently lower prices or larger seasonal
price fluctuations. Taken together, the results of these studies suggest that local food
retail outlets can provide, at competitive prices, the fresh fruits and vegetables that
make up a large percentage of Americans' total fruit produce intake. Their ability to do
so does not depend on season, though limitations in the year-round availability of
produce at these outlets should be acknowledged. The results also suggest that Americans
could improve their diet by either consuming a greater proportion of fresh fruits and
vegetables or by selecting low-sodium and low-sugar items within processed fruit and
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2013.
Submitted to the Dept. of Food Policy & Applied Nutrition.
Advisor: Parke Wilde.
Committee: Beatrice Rogers, and Hayden Stewart.
Keywords: Nutrition, Agriculture economics, and Public health.read less