Pamela RiemenschneiderSeventy-percent of respondents in the 2014 Ripe for Grocers: The Local Food Movement survey conducted by A.T. Kearney said they would pay more for local food. Two thirds of those said they'd pay 15% more for local strawberries. Consumers say they’re ready to pony up a premium for locally grown produce and prefer retailers who carry more locally produced items, according to a new survey of 1,100 U.S. grocery shoppers.
The 2014 Ripe for Grocers: The Local Food Movement survey conducted by A.T. Kearney found 70% of respondents willing to pay a premium for local food, one-third willing to pay 10% more — and these respondents said they were more willing to pay the premium for local than organic.
Strawberries were a strong leader in local premiums. Of those who said they would pay more for local food, 65% said they would pay 15% more for local strawberries.
The primary reason shoppers cited for not buying more local groceries is lack of availability at their retailer of choice, though the numbers have fallen since last year. Forty-seven percent said products are not available at their retailer, compared to 57% last year.
Price also was a concern, with 31% saying local products are too expensive.
Seven percent said they do not trust their retailer on the sourcing origin. Survey respondents said they trusted farmers markets, specialty supermarkets and local supermarkets over “big-box stores” and national supermarkets when it comes to fresh and local.
“As we noted in last year’s report, many customers believe that retailers tailor the term ‘local’ to their advantage with little transparency into how they define it,” the report said. “Fruits and vegetables harvested hundreds of miles away are often still declared local, which has drawn criticism from small farmer organizations — and skepticism from buyers.”
Smaller retailers have an advantage when it comes to “fresh” perception, the report said.
“Given that our research has found strong correlation between fresh and local, large retailers can build awareness of their fresh products simply by sourcing and marketing local more effectively — particularly in categories such as produce, meat, bread and dairy.”
The report cited two regional retailers, San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Co. Inc. and Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans for their efforts in allowing local managers more autonomy to make local food buying decisions.
“For example,” the report said, “H-E-B in Texas and Wegmans on the East Coast allow local managers to build their own sourcing relationships with local farmers and merchandise these offerings as they see fit. The local autonomy model optimizes quality, freshness and availability — three critical elements for success in local we have identified in our consumer research.”