Industry targets growing demand for local food

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Local food Britain

The increasing availability of locally ingredients and food is
driving sales of products with a clear provenance, according to a
new report commissioned by Food from Britain (FFB).

Unveiled at Food and Drink Expo in the UK, the research, conducted by food and drink experts IGD, showed that since March 2005, the percentage of shoppers claiming to buy local food and drink has increased by 6 per cent (year on year growth).

A further 9 per cent expressed an interest in buying if availability was better.

This research gives us a clear indication that the work being done to promote awareness of regional foods is having an impact,"​ said David McNair, chief executive of Food from Britain.

Such growth can be tied into the general rise in ethical consumerism, a trend that has been quickly identified by supermarkets. Sectors such as organics have moved increasingly into the mainstream; the European market was worth 20.7 billion in 2004, and has been growing by 26 per cent since 2001.

Locally produced food is increasingly tapping into this ethical consumer base. Food campaigners point out that transport of food by air, which creates the highest CO2 emissions per tonne, is the fastest growing mode of food transport. Buying local produce can cut out these so-called 'food miles', thus helping the environment.

A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Marks & Spencer found that 78 per cent would like to know more about where they come from.

The survey found that local produce merchandised in a supermarket continues to be the preferred place amongst buyers to get local food, with almost half of consumers citing this as their favoured retail outlet. A significant improvement in availability in these outlets is helping to drive growth.

Farm shops (25 per cent), butchers (24 per cent) and farmers markets (21 per cent) are still popular choices for local purchases, illustrating that there is a need for different purchasing channels when it comes to local food.

While vegetables and fruit are still key categories, there is a move towards cross category purchasing with a demand for cooked meat products such as pies and pasties, and other fresh produce including meat, poultry and eggs. The purchase of more specialised products, such as frozen desserts, alcoholic and soft drinks is also on the increase offering significant future opportunities for producers. The research highlights a few notable changes in purchasing behaviour, including a 14 per cent (year on year growth) increase in consumers aged 24 to 34 buying local food and 32 per cent more shoppers (year on year percentage point increase) in the A demographic group purchased local food, a group specifically identified as an opportunity last year.

London still holds the biggest purchasing power for local and regional foods and also the greatest desire to purchase more.

Food from Britain, the market development consultancy for British food and drink producers, has been commissioned by Defra to develop and implement a programme of support for the British regional food and drink sector.

It is being delivered in association with a network of regional food and drink groups, and encompasses trade development, consumer awareness and increasing producer competitiveness.

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