The Eye Eats Before the Mouth, but What Attracts Customers?
Edible greens (e.g., leafy greens, lettuces, herbs, microgreens) have a variety of aesthetics. Color is a key aesthetic for these items, and they come in various colors from purples and pinks to various shades of green. Different production practices can be used to enhance colors, flavor or nutritional content. Recently, I collaborated with fellow University of Tennessee researchers (Drs. Kellie Walters and Natalie Bumgarner) on a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to investigate the influence of color on Tennesseans’ preferences for locally grown microgreens. Customers had clear color preferences for microgreens. Green was the most preferred for two different species of microgreens. Approximately 51% of the sample preferred green kale and 46% of the sample preferred green radish microgreens (Fig. 1). Purple coloring was less desired. Light purple and dark purple kale were preferred by 28% and 26% of the sample while 25% preferred the light purple radish and 24% preferred the dark purple radish microgreens. In general, Tennesseans exhibited greater tolerance for the light and dark purple radish microgreens than the light or dark purple kale microgreens, as indicated by the intermediate preference category. This implies that species does play a role in preference, but that green coloration still takes the cake!
Alicia L. RihnAssistant Professor, University of Tennessee
Alicia has been at the University of Tennessee since July 2020. Her area of expertise is in marketing and consumer behavior with an emphasis on ornamental horticulture products. She also addresses niche markets, value-added ag, willingness-to-pay, and promotional strategies to encourage plant purchasing behavior.