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.
Shoppers are willing to buy local food—and pay more for it. Seventy percent of consumers say they will pay a premium for local food, the same number as in last year’s survey. However more of those consumers say they are willing to pay a bigger premium—one-third (compared to less than one quarter last year) say they would pay 10 percent more. Our findings indicate that more people are willing to pay extra for local food than they are for organics. Still, buyers don’t have unlimited budgets for local food, which still makes up the minority of their shopping baskets. Thirty-seven percent say high prices are preventing them from choosing more local food options. -
TK: Readers will find the last part of the report - recommendations for retailers - particularly helpful. Traditional retailers have far to go to achieve consumer trust in the marketing of local food. The survey said that farmers' markets and specialty supermarkets are considered most trustworthy in local food claims, followed by locally owned supermarkets, national supermarkets, big-box and online grocers. The Packer will also be covering the report online.