A new survey on local food and consumer is out, called “Ripe for Grocers: the local food movement.”
Published by AT Kearney, report takes an extensive look at the appeal of local foods and the connection to retail. Relative to fresh fruits and vegetables, the survey found that "local" was second only to "freshness" as an important factor in buying decisions (33% freshness to 15% local). The survey also pointed out that fresh produce is a category where consumers are willing to pay a premium for local. For example, 65% of consumers would pay a 15% premium for local strawberries, compared with 47% of those polled who would pay 15% more for locally produced raspberry jam.
From the report:
Local food is quickly transitioning from one small way grocers can stand out to a component of the shopping experience that buyers expect. Sales of local food have increased an estimated 13 percent per year since 2008, and are now worth at least $9 billion.
Local food remains important for shoppers. More than 40 percent of respondents say they purchase local food on a weekly basis, and another 28 percent buy local food at least once a month. Most say that local food helps the local economy (66 percent) and brings a broader and better assortment (60 percent). Another 45 percent say it offers healthy alternatives to customers. It is clear that retailers offering local food can positively influence customer perception.
Local food awareness and price perception have improved. Sixty-eight percent of respondents (up 3 percent from last year) say they are aware that their supermarket of choice offers local food. Seven percent (down from 11 percent) believe their supermarkets do not offer local food; of this group 34 percent are considering grocers because of this.
Leaders are differentiating on “fresh.” Our survey respondents said that when they buy groceries, freshness is far and away the most important purchasing criteria (60 percent), followed by price (30 percent). Local sourcing is a powerful way for retailers to demonstrate their products’ freshness, as 30 percent of respondents do not differentiate between fresh and local.
This is particularly evident in specific categories: Many consumers want both fresh and local in categories such as fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, meat, fish and seafood, dairy and eggs, and bread.