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Interest in maximisation and value-added produce: A preliminary study from Chilton County, Alabama

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Purpose ‐ Contemporary studies and reports point to the potential of value-added products as an alternative income stream as well as a means of extending the product line of many agriculturalists. While there is a well documented growth of initiatives and interest in the establishment of commercial kitchen technologies to develop value-added products in many rural communities, such growth has not been accompanied by research, particularly relating to the producers' perspective on such developments. This study seeks to examine the extent to which small farm operators in one rural Alabama community are interested in becoming involved with value-adding their product line. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A total of 33 small growers from Chilton County, Alabama, participated in this study by completing a questionnaire. Findings ‐ The findings demonstrate that much of what respondents grow could be further processed into value-added products. Also, while almost one-fourth of the participants acknowledge the need for a commercial kitchen, the majority are interested in both selling blemished/unmarketable produce for processing and forming a group to work towards adding value to their produce. The findings also point to the fact that the concept of value-adding produce and the implications for the same area are little understood amongst many rural farmers. Research limitations/implications ‐ Both the chosen geographical/physical location of the farms ‐ that is, in one single farming community ‐ and the low number of participating businesses limit the generalisability of the findings. However, the study's overall findings could be of assistance to future research efforts and, in particular, replication studies in other rural areas. Practical implications ‐ Many farmers could maximise their produce by means of developing value-added products and could potentially increase their revenues in the process. However, other gains may be of equal or more importance. For instance, extending an area of their business and fully utilising their produce's intrinsic rewards, learning experiences and increased motivation could have important implications for many rural communities and farming industries. Originality/value ‐ This study seeks to fill the existing gap of knowledge with regard to small farmers' perceptions on maximisation of their produce, an area closely related to value-added product development. To date, research on the farm operator perspective with regard to these dimensions continues to be limited.
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Keywords: Farms; Fruits; United States of America; Value added

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 17 May 2011

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