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Abstract

We administered an online choice experiment to a sample of U.S. raw oyster consumers to identify factors influencing preferences for Gulf of Mexico oysters, and to estimate willingness-to-pay for specific attributes, including harvest location / brand, price, size, taste (saltiness), and cultivation method (wild vs. farm-raised). This work was complemented by taste panels conducted in Point Clear (Alabama), Houston, and Chicago. During taste panels, local branded varieties dominate consumer choice, although these same varieties fare no better than other varieties under blind taste-tests. Online survey results indicate that Non-Gulf respondents are likely to require a price discount on Gulf varieties relative to local varieties, on the order of $3-9 per half-dozen, depending on the specific variety and other factors. Although most Gulf respondents chose the cheaper generic Gulf oyster over branded Gulf varieties, we still estimate positive price premia for branded Gulf varieties of up to $5 per half-dozen.

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