Consumer demand for local foods is spreading to more categories.
Lack of access to local foods has become less of a barrier, according to A.T. Kearney.

CHICAGO – Seventy-eight percent of consumers are willing to pay more for local food, up from 70 percent in 2014, according to a new study from A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.

No longer limited to produce, meat and seafood, local is becoming an increasingly important attribute for prepared foods and dry groceries, too. Local has increased in importance from 5 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2015 for canned and jarred products, from 10 percent to 23 percent for prepared foods, and from 9 percent to 18 percent for bread. A.T. Kearney surveyed more than 1,500 primary household shoppers for the report.

“The ‘locavore’ movement has taken root,” said Randy Burt, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study. “Consumers — especially women and young people — have come to expect not only high-quality local meat, seafood, and produce, but also jams, ice cream and bread.”

More consumers agree on the definition of local. Ninety-six per cent describe local food as products grown or produced within 100 miles from point of sale, up from 58 percent in 2014.

The primary driver of buying local for grocery consumers is a perception of freshness. Lack of access to local food has become less of a barrier; only 27 percent of consumers said local products are not available. About half of shoppers said they don’t purchase local food because of a lack of clear marketing or in-store signs.

“Forward-thinking retailers and restaurants with a distinctive definition of local and a focus on marketing and merchandising fresh, high-quality products at the right price will capture a long-term advantage in this growing market,” Burt said.