Today, we wanted to tell you the story of how a new word entered into the conversation about food.
In his 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, food journalist and author Michael Pollan argued that people should know where their food comes from – and that individuals should make an effort to eat locally sourced food products.
Not long later, chef and author Jessica Prentice coined the term ‘locavore’ – using it to refer to people who eat locally, and care about knowing how and where their food is produced.
Then in 2007, locavore was chosen as the New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year.
More than just a word, locavore is the name for a movement: a new wave of consumers who believe it’s important to know the origins of their food, and who care about supporting local food systems.
From the perspective of locavores, the benefits of this movement include…
Of course, some of these points are arguable – and as food technology develops, F&B businesses are constantly improving their capacity to store and transport food while maintaining freshness, taste, and nutritional value.
Research in 2022 by YouGov shows that on average, three in five consumers around the world say they prefer purchasing food from their own country.
Of the 18 markets surveyed, consumers in Italy showed the strongest preferences for local food (74%), followed by Sweden (71%), France (67%), and Spain (67%).
Consumers in Denmark and Great Britain were the least likely to prefer buying locally produced food, at 57% and 54% respectively.
The YouGov study also found that there’s a link between preferring local food and caring about climate change.
Survey respondents who expressed concern about global warming and carbon emissions were more likely to also express a preference for local food.
This suggests, then, that the consumer trend towards local food isn’t just a passing fad. As more people face the realities of climate change, there’s growing demand for produce that has a lower environmental impact – and locally sourced food answers some of that demand.
The true environmental benefits of local vs. imported food is a topic of ongoing debate. But for F&B businesses, consumer trends matter: and businesses that enable the production and distribution of more local food are well placed to tap into demand from locally-minded consumers.
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