Many retailers saw the buy local trend as an opportunity and began sourcing seasonally available produce within a closer proximity, she said.
They also saw it as a way to reduce transportation costs and possibly reduce their carbon footprint.
Some retailers have seen sales of locally grown produce increase by 50% during the past seven years, she said.
Even Walmart has gotten onboard and has set a goal of sourcing 9% of its overall produce locally by 2015, she said.
Many retailers also have used local produce to enhance their market position.
“They may already have ownership of that region, but they’ve used the trend to make that connection to the consumer stronger,” she said.
But with the growth of the buy local movement also have come challenges.
Some smaller growers may have more difficulty meeting food safety requirements and they may not have the same distribution and logistics capabilities of larger-scale grower-packer-shippers, Barber said.