When it comes to consumer food trends, local still rules.
Half of consumers polled in August said they have purchased locally sourced food in the past month, compared with 40% who say they have bought organic food, according to research conducted by Datassential on behalf of Charleston Orwig, a communications and marketing conpany in Hartland, Wis.
The research was presented by Datassential Director Maeve Webster in September at Charleston Orwig’s third-annual “thought leadership event” in Milwaukee, according to Jenell Loschke, account supervisor, for Charleston Orwig.
“Locally sourced is perceived as a driver of sustainability,” Loschke said. “It is the only ‘sustainable’ descriptor driving retail (64%) and foodservice (50%) purchases among consumers.”
More than 2,600 consumers were polled on food purchasing decisions, and the research revealed that young consumers embrace local food, organic, sustainable food, Fair Trade and heirloom varieties more than older consumers.
The research — applying to all food categories — showed that 50% of consumers polled said they had purchased locally grown food in the past month, while 20% said they have never purchased it.
The research found 29% of consumers are willing to pay more for locally sourced food, while 43% of retail and foodservice operators said they would pay more for locally sourced food. Fifty-two percent of consumers under 35 embraced locally sourced food, compared with 47% for those over 55.
Meanwhile, 40% of consumers polled said they purchased organic in the past month, while 30% of consumers said they have never purchased organic. Forty percent of consumers polled said they would pay more for organic food, compared with 33% of retail and foodservice operators. Half of those surveyed under 35 years old prefer organic food, compared with 28% over 55 years old.
The research showed that 30% of consumers indicated they bought “sustainable” food in the past month, and 36% said they have never purchased sustainable food.
The research found that 22% of consumers would pay more for the category, compared with 29% of retail and foodservice operators. Forty percent of consumers under 35 years old said that sustainable food appeals to them, compared with just 20% for those over 55 years old.
An even smaller number of consumers purchased Fair Trade-certified food, with 24% of those certified saying they purchased the category in the past month and 43% saying they have never purchased Fair Trade food. Of consumers polled, 19% said they would pay more for “Fair Trade” food, compared with 23% for retail and foodservice operators.
“Heirloom” food was purchased by 19% of consumers in the past month, while 54% said they have never purchased the category, according to the research. Meanwhile, 23% of consumers said they pay more for heirloom/heritage food, while 25% of retail and foodservice operators said they would pay more for heirloom variety food. Research showed that 29% of consumers under 35 embraced heirloom varieties, compared with 10% of consumers over 55.
Limited availability may be one reason consumers aren’t buying more food with sustainable attributes, according to the survey. Just over half of retail and foodservice operators polled said they offered locally sourced food, compared with 25% who carry organic and just 18% who offered heirloom/heritage products.
Video highlights of the research can be accessed online.