Local food is growing in importance in the mindset of the consumer and there is a continuing push to ‘buy local’ by governments, interest groups and communities.
The growth in farmers markets signals that consumers are becoming more active in choosing alternative channels to purchase locally grown and produced foods. International food retailers are also seeing the opportunities in marketing ‘local foods’, with both ASDA and Wal-Mart reporting significant growth in local food categories.
Dr Gary Mortimer from the QUT Business School recently undertook extensive market research of the changing tastes of food shoppers in Australia. His results and consumer insights have been recently shared with one of Australia’s largest supermarket retailers.
Mortimer’s key findings include:
Over 80% of shoppers indicated an intention to purchase local foods and products if they were readily available in supermarkets. In response, we are seeing supermarkets and grocers tailoring their ranges to include local foods and unique products to meet these changing consumer needs.
Important drivers of local food purchasing are connectedness with the community and support for small business. Community economic sustainability was a clear theme emergent from the data, in contrast to environmental factors, such as shorter supply chains and reduced food miles.
The majority of shoppers considered local food to be food products sourced within their region, town or city, not simply domestic products. Consumers looked for products that conveyed authentic, rustic, artisan or home-made aesthetics. In supermarkets, consumers expected to see higher proportions of local food in categories, like eggs, fresh produce and bakery, and to a lesser extent, dairy and meat. Such findings will influence ranging and category management decisions.
Only about 20% of consumers believe major supermarkets currently provide a good range of local food products, and this suggests opportunities for increasing awareness though promotional campaigns.
Consumers indicated both government and major supermarkets need to do more for the farming community and the sourcing and ranging of local produce. It is suggested that supermarkets should engage with all levels of government and other industry groups to develop programs around sourcing, funding and consumer education.
Consumers indicated their decisions to purchase local food were driven by perceptions of quality and safety, not necessarily cost and convenience. It has been suggested that consumers are willing to pay more for locally produced and grown products and this in a further area of Dr Mortimer’s current research.
Article supplied by the QUT School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, principal sponsors of the 2014 Marketing Summit to be held Wednesday 28 May at Rydges Southbank, Brisbane. Last minute tickets are available until May 27 – click here to register.
The Australian Marketing Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of the 2014 Marketing Summit Sponsors.