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Stackyard News Nov 07

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Local Food Set to Go Mainstream

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 by Tesco.

Localchoice milk

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 appeal.

“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 explained.

“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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