NEW YORK – Nielsen’s “Global Brand-Origin Survey, Q3 2015,” finds that consumers prefer local brands to global brands in both perishable and packaged foods. Global respondents for every region preferred local brands across all categories of fresh and packaged foods with two exceptions, yogurt in North America and sweets and chocolate in all regions.

For fresh foods, global respondents who bought fresh vegetables prefer local to global 68 percent to 11 percent, fresh meat 66 percent to 13 percent, fruit 64 percent to 12 percent, seafood 57 percent to 18 percent and yogurt 52 percent to 22 percent. Only in North America did respondents show a one-third split between local and global in the yogurt category.

“Perishability is an obvious factor for purchasing locally sourced foods, but food safety concerns and cost are other important considerations for consumers,” said Patrick Dodd, group president, Nielsen Growth Markets. “Additionally, buying local fresh products increases the likelihood that a product will be more flavorful and, in some cases, more nutritious than one transported from many miles away, as the nutritional value of some foods diminishes with time.”

Respondents also favor local over global brands of packaged foods, even without the perishable factor. Global respondents who purchase the category preferred local brand of ice cream 44 percent to 27 percent, cookies and biscuits 40 percent to 28 percent, crisps (chips) and crackers 40 percent to 28 percent, breakfast cereal 44 percent to 29 percent, instant noodles 47 percent to 24 percent, and canned vegetables 53 percent to 20 percent. In the sweets and chocolate category, global brands were preferred 37 percent 33 percent over local, according to the survey.

“Winning in packaged-food and snack categories is all about understanding and innovating around local tastes and eating habits,” Dodd said. “Local companies often have a deeper understanding of consumer tastes in their market and can respond more quickly to changing needs. Therefore, they are typically adept at developing products that appeal to these particular preferences. Global brands, in contrast, often capitalize on economies of scale and offer more homogeneous products across markets.”  

The Asia-Pacific and Africa/Middle East regions match up with the global results for preferences in packaged foods. Latin America mirrors the global results, as well, with the exception of the sweets and breakfast cereal categories. The European region follows the global results except for sweets, crackers and instant noodles. European respondents said brand origin was not important in these categories. In North America, preferences are split. Respondents preferred global brands for sweets/chocolates, breakfast cereal, crackers and instant noodles, but local brands for ice cream and canned vegetables. However for most packaged categories, North American respondents said brand origin was not important.

Other findings from the Global Brand-Origin report include:

  • The top reasons for choosing a brand are the same for both global and local brands: better price/value, positive experience with the brand, safer ingredients and processing, better product benefits, and sales/promotion.
  • Nearly six in 10 global respondents (59 percent) say they buy local brands because they support local businesses, with sentiment highest in North America (65 percent).
  • When shopping online, global respondents say they’re more likely to seek out global brands for durable and electronic products and local brands for consumable products.
  • One-fifth of global respondents (21 percent) say national pride is one of the most important reasons they buy local products, with sentiment highest in Africa/Middle East (25 percent), Asia-Pacific (24 percent) and Latin America (21 percent).