But it’s important to recognise the difference between ‘locality food’ which is marketed and sold both nationally and internationally based on being produced in a specific geographical region, and ‘local food’ which is produced and consumed locally. Alternatively, Sustain include a number of, albeit loosely specified, environmental, animal welfare, employment, fair trading relations, producer profitability and cultural conditions in their definition of local food.
When asked, 70% of British consumers say they want to buy local food suggesting they care about the provenance of their food. However, this appetite for local does not convert into sales with local foods accounting for less than 5% of the UK grocery market.
Research by the Institute of Grocery Distribution has identified the main barriers preventing people buying local food as:
- Lack of awareness that local foods exist
- Believe they lack practical access to local foods
- Think it is out of their price range
- Believe they cannot rely on its availability
According to research published this month by a major supermarket trade magazine, the provenance of food is only the fifth most important issue for customers after price, taste, quality and brand. But supporters of local food would point to research by the same magazine that found 76% of shoppers agree or strongly agree that buying local or regional food supports jobs and boosts the economy.
Local groups such as Hampshire Fare exist specifically to actively promote the benefits of buying local produce, and these benefits include taste and quality. However, it is clear that supporters of local food need to raise awareness and overcome some of the wrongly held beliefs that currently prevent people from buying local foods.
A local student is currently researching opportunities for Hampshire’s local food businesses to embrace online marketing and you can help increase consumption of Hampshire's quality produce by completing this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HampshireFoods.
Do you consciously buy any foods because they're produced locally in the New Forest? Leave your comment below.