Would You Pay More for Local Oysters?

The natural oyster industry in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays collapsed nearly 40 years ago, and Delaware has been a minor player in the rapidly expanding oyster industry ever since. Now, oyster aquaculture in the Inland Bays is quickly becoming a reality, with the first oyster spat being planted in the summer of 2018 and numerous more to come.

With funding from Delaware Sea Grant, Dr. Kent Messer, Director of the University of Delaware's Center for Experimental & Applied Economics, is working to find out what the value of Delaware's burgeoning oyster industry might be. Messer used experimental economics - giving people real money and the option to purchase oysters or keep the cash - to find out what locals and tourists are willing to pay for local Inland Bays oysters.


Messer's results demonstrated that 28% of local participants and 13% of out-of-state participants are willing to purchase oysters that are branded as a local Delaware product at a higher price - 16% more - compared to non-local oysters. Messer's research was published in the journal Agriculture and Resources Economic Review.