Consumers want local more than organic, study says

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Consumers are bombarded with making multiple decisions regarding food choices, especially organic and local foods. A new study released this week shows consumers choose local foods over organics.

A.T. Kearney released the study, "Buying into the Local Food Movement," a consumer study that assessed how shoppers make decisions about buying local versus non-local food.

The study results show that local food is a trend that consumers have embraced. Across a variety of measures, consumers indicated that local food is a much more important consideration than organic food. The study also revealed that consumers have trust issues when buying local food at national and big box retailers.

Summing up the report's findings, James Rushing, A.T. Kearney partner and leader of the study, observed, "Clearly, local food cannot be ignored as a growing segment for the grocery industry, and we've learned that larger-format food retailers still have much work to do to earn the trust of consumers in providing quality local food products. But the additional work and costs are worth the effort in the customer loyalty gained."

The study found that consumers turned to local food more than organic because of their belief that buying local helped their local economy and offered a better assortment of products. The study also found that 30 percent of respondents said they would consider purchasing food elsewhere if their preferred store didn’t carry local foods. 

Sustainability played an important role in the respondents’ opinions. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said local food contributes positively. On the other hand, only 50 percent said they believed organic foods contribute positively. The implication is that environmentally conscious consumers will seek out local food more actively than organic food.

Across all income levels, the study found that 70 percent of consumers were willing to pay a premium for local food.

The full report is available at

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