Three Essays on Economic Issues Confronting the Fresh Produce Sector

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This dissertation consists of three chapters investigating economic issues confronting the fresh produce sector in the U.S., focusing on alternative production practices and technologies that have sustainability implications for the sector. The first chapter investigates the signaling effects of genetically modified (GM) related food labels on consumer demand for other competing fresh produce in the market. Using a choice experiment with over 1,300 subjects, results show significant impacts from GM labels on demands for conventional unlabeled products. The second and third chapters assess pre- and post-harvest pest controls to manage spotted wing drosophila (SWD) for the lowbush blueberry production in Maine and highbush blueberry production in North Carolina, respectively. Specifically, the second chapter develops a novel dynamic bioeconomic analytical framework to assess the optimal pre-harvest pest control and incorporates structural econometrics to estimate growers’ perceptions. Results suggest that it is optimal to include early harvest, the focal sustainable pest control alternative, as part of the pest management. The third chapter focuses on a post-harvest pest control strategy consisting of putting blueberries in cold storage after harvest to minimize the risk of SWD infestation. The study proposes a game theory framework to model the strategic behaviors that affect a grower’s decision of using post-harvest cold storage and a buyer’s decision of testing fruit infestation. The analysis highlights that incorporating post-harvest cooling is optimal under Nash equilibrium. This dissertation contributes to the food and agricultural economics literature and provides empirical contributions to stakeholders on pressing issues facing fresh produce value chains today.

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164 pages


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Committee Chair

Gomez, Miguel I.

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Kaiser, Harry Mason
Lin Lawell, C.-Y. Cynthia

Degree Discipline

Applied Economics and Management

Degree Name

Ph. D., Applied Economics and Management

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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dissertation or thesis

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