Posted by: locaphile | August 9, 2012

“Local” is Magic

While some may have suspected that “buy local” was more than a fad, grocers will be happy to have received more confirmation that shoppers are looking to buy local products and are committed to local food.  A recent survey by BMO, Canadians Willing to Pay a Significant Premium to Eat Local Food, states that “On average, Canadians are willing to pay 16 per cent more for domestic fruits and vegetables and 19 per cent more for Canadian meat products.”  Supporting local producers is seen as the top benefit of purchasing local food (28 per cent) followed by freshness (14 percent), the environment (10 per cent), and safety (9 per cent).  Regional trends were also identified including the finding that “Ontarians and British Columbians are willing to pay the highest premium for Canadian-made products, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables and meat products.”  And we like our own wines too.

Taking the survey’s results to the grocers of Vancouver, Zoe McKnight’s article in the Vancouver Sun, “B.C. consumers willing to pay more for local food, survey finds”, includes the additional observation that consumers will only pay so much of a premium in their support of local food: “Only if it’s a little bit more. If it’s significant, like double the price, people will still buy the cheaper [options].”  It is also interesting to note that value-added products might not be fully on the buy-local wagon: the article finds that “…customers are willing to pay a little more for B.C. fruit and vegetables, but not grocery items like packaged food or condiments…”

Ethical eating may be gaining ground in Canada and British Columbia but it continues to have its conundrums.  Randy Shore’s article in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun, “Shoppers increasingly favour local over organic,” points out that “Certified producers and retailers wrestle with customer confusion about their standards” in the ongoing debate as to whether is is better to buy imported organic foodstuffs or to buy local foodstuffs that may not be organic or certified.  In Vancouver, Randy Shore found that there is “[o]ne thing all grocers can agree on: The word “local” is magic. Customers will pass up imported certified organic products to buy locally grown food.”

Many people are finding that meeting and developing relationships with local food producers at BC Farmers Markets is the way to go to understand what is involved in your food’s production.  Alternatively, “Grow Your Own – Organically” might be a partial solution to some of these challenges but even then a crazy neighbour might spray herbicide over the fence into the “organic” backyard garden.  Heavy sigh.  What was that about keeping calm and carrying on?



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