According to IGD research, a quarter of us have recently bought products that have been produced in the local area, up from 15 per cent five years ago. We project sales of locally and regionally sourced products to reach £1.4bn by 2012.
There are several reasons for this. The first is that provenance is becoming increasingly important to discerning British shoppers. One-fifth of shoppers now say knowing the country of origin is an important consideration when choosing a product. We want good-value, high-quality products that taste good, but we're also hungry for the stories behind the method and place of production.
Another major factor is environmental sustainability. Carbon emissions have captured the public imagination in the past year, and the food and grocery industry is being scrutinised. Our research shows shopper concern about food miles has doubled in the past five years.
This is good news for British producers, at least in the domestic market, although food miles are only part of the story. On average, transportation only accounts for 13 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the food chain. The complex challenge is to measure total emissions and factor in other environmental and social impacts. IGD is playing a role in helping the industry achieve this.
Retailers are quick to respond to emerging trends, and the increased demand for local and regional products is no exception. Several major retailers have set up local sourcing hubs around the country. Locally sourced ranges are still a modest proportion of total sales, but expect rapid growth throughout 2008 and beyond.
- Joanne Denney-Finch is chief executive of IGD.