Consumers turned on by local produce

Consumer interest in locally-produced food is growing fast, with nearly a third of shoppers saying they have sought out such produce in the past month.

That is double the number three years ago, showing that support for local food has withstood the recession well, according to new research by grocery analysts IGD.

The proportion of consumers buying Fairtrade produce has also grown strongly – up three-fold to 27% – while 18% said they had looked for products with high animal-welfare standards.

“These figures prove what we have been saying throughout the recession – shoppers are looking for both value and values,” said IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch.

“They are not simply looking for cheaper food in tough times. They also expect the grocery industry to support their moral and ethical values.”

Asked why they had chosen local food, 57% said because it had not travelled as far and was therefore fresher, while 54% said they wanted to support local producers and farmers.

Another 34% wanted to support local retailers, while 29% wanted to keep jobs in the local area.

IGD also asked shoppers what improvements they would like to see to their food and grocery shopping experience. Once again, support for locally-produced food was up, with 31% saying they would like more local products, compared with 12% in 2005.

One in five would like a farmers’ market or farm shop to be established nearby, up from 15% in 2005.

* For more on this story, see Phil Clarke’s Business Blog