Local food is set to move from a niche marketing opportunity to
the mainstream of weekly shopping as major supermarkets embrace
it with real commitment, suggested industry experts at a specialist
Chartered Institute of Marketing event this week.
Localchoice milk is currently rated as a
key business priority
Chairing the meeting run jointly with the Guild of Agricultural
Journalists and Harper Adams University College, CIM Food, Drink
and Agriculture Group chairman, John Giles of Promar International
pointed out that local food has come from nowhere just a few years
ago to command widespread consumer interest today.
“Localchoice milk is currently rated as a key business priority
by Tesco,” he noted. “So I have no doubt it will develop
strongly. To such an extent that I can see it growing to represent
a major share of the supermarket’s milk sales in a few years.
“Local is very much associated with authentic in consumers’ minds,” stressed
chief executive of Heart of England Fine Foods, Karen Davies, MBE. “And
the fact that they are increasingly seeking it and major retailers
like Tesco, M & S and Waitrose are seriously promoting it is
hugely valuable for the farming industry.
“Initiatives on this scale provide us with tremendous opportunities
to educate consumers as well as to secure extra value from the
market. Local food can become mainstream but it has a long way
to go. We must encourage the major multiples in their efforts.
With their involvement we may even be able to build a similar local
food-buying culture to that already prevailing across France and
ensure local means sustainable as well as authentic.”
Harper Adams senior fresh produce lecturer, Dr Jim Monaghan added
that getting shoppers to really want to buy local food is the key,
insisting that it has the potential to overtake organic in its
“Consumer specialists rate local above organic in a food
buying hierarchy they currently refer to as LOAF – Local
trumps Organic which trumps Animal welfare which trumps Fair trade,” he
“Farmers really must appreciate the opportunity that local
food presents and seize it. In milk production, for instance, they
have to understand that the need to diversify and add value has
not been removed by current high commodity prices.”
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