MANHATTAN, Kan. – Farmers looking to capitalize on the local food movement should focus on women and Baby Boomers, according to a new study from a Kansas State Univ. researcher.

Sarah Bernard, who received a master’s degree in agribusiness from the university, studied consumers’ motivations for buying local beef after she noticed rising demand from consumers wanting to buy beef from her family’s farm in Pikeville, Tenn.

Based on the results of an online survey of more than 400 consumers, women responded with higher levels of agreement to motivating factors such as local support, environment and health, compared with males. Those under 25 years old agreed more with barriers to buy, such as price, inconvenience and unfamiliar brand. Those older than 55 years old showed higher levels of motivation for purchasing local beef.

"Females, who tend to be the primary consumer when it comes to food products and the older population seemed to have a greater motivation and calling to buy local products, and this appeared to be very important to them," Bernard said.

Bernard's research also revealed that respondents in all demographics rated local support as the greatest motivating factor and price as the main barrier in their decision to buy local beef.

Bernard concluded that farmers should cater their marketing initiatives to female and older consumers because they are more likely to buy local products. Further, farmers should promote local agriculture in their marketing messages in general to capture the niche ‘locavore’ market.

"The theme of supporting local agriculture found appeal across all ages, genders and income levels, and this theme would likely be favored in marketing campaigns," she said. "Buying local is not meant to compete with larger beef production in America, but farmers can better serve this small market to fill the very specific needs of consumers who want to buy local products."