Majority of consumers support local foodA new consumer survey reveals nearly 70% of consumers say they have purchased local food in the past year, with freshness of the product a key motivation.

Called “Shopping for Health 2014,” the survey of U.S. grocery shoppers was sponsored by Rodale Inc., Prevention, Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines, and the Food Marketing Institute.

The survey found that 69% of consumers say they have purchased local food in the past year, up from 2010. Nearly eight in ten shoppers said they buy local because of the produce is fresh and in season. Other reasons are to support local farms (68%) and better taste (51%). Older consumers and women tend to purchase more locally grown food, according to the report.

Organic foods were purchased by 46% of shoppers polled, about the same percentage as 2008, according to the survey. Organic fruits and vegetables were purchased by one in three consumers, compared with 22% who have purchased organic eggs and 20% who said they bought organic dairy. About 67% of consumers surveyed said they were buying about the same amount of organic food as they were a year ago.

Generation Y consumers are mostly likely to buy organic, with 63% purchasing at least one type of organic food in the last six months, 17% higher than the overall consumer average.

The survey showed 44% of consumers are buying more fresh food ingredients now, up from 34% two years ago.

The report also polled shoppers on where they buy food, and the statistics showed a rise in the percentage of shoppers who use discount grocery stores.

Traditional grocery stores are still used by 87% of shoppers polled ­— up 1% from 2007. However, the percentage of consumers who shop at discount grocery stores rose from 56% in 2007 to 64% in 2013. The percentage of shoppers who use club stores for any type of grocery trip rose from 41% in 2007 to 43% in 2013, and shoppers who bought food at natural/organic stores climbed from 21% in 2007 to 24% in 2013.

They survey found only 33% of shoppers put a lot of effort into healthy eating, and 62% said that changing their eating habits is too hard to do. The survey found that 44% of consumers say they don’t want to give up food they like for their health; 43% of shoppers said healthy food doesn’t taste as good.

Cost is also a barrier; 59% of consumers said that cost is a deterrent to eating healthy.