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Shopping for Local Foods in the U.S.

  • January 2015
  • -
  • Packaged Facts
  • -
  • 89 pages

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Locally grown and produced foods are experiencing surging consumer demand and widening availability. Some members of the industry even are saying that locally grown will be the next organic. Contributing to their long-term potential, local foods are not just a food store category or segment but a marketing construct. For retailers, foodservice operators, and food marketers alike, local has, in other words, become a shorthand descriptor that makes food sound high quality, fresher, more authentic, trustworthy, environmentally friendly, and supportive of the local community—key factors for attracting shoppers into the store and encouraging repeat business.

Despite the media hype, increased consumer interest, and growing presence in grocery stores and restaurants, however, locally sourced food remains a fraction of the nation's total food supply. Packaged Facts calculates that local foods generated $11.7 billion in sales in 2014, or 1.8% of total retail sales of foods and beverages. At this stage, local foods are not anywhere close to matching organic foods' sales, consumer acceptance, and farm acreage, with potential growth hampered by short growing seasons throughout much of the country.

Scope and Methodology

Packaged Facts' first edition report, Shopping for Local Foods in the U.S., thoroughly examines trends and opportunities in the local foods market, covering all types of retail outlets, farmers' markets, foodservice providers, marketers all types of business models, the role of food hubs, reasons to buy local foods, and government support for local foods programs. Utilizing extensive data from a proprietary Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey conducted in November 2014, as well as other published surveys, the report delves deeply into consumer purchasing, examining what motivates consumers to buy local foods, where they're buying them, and what they're buying and growing themselves.

The report profiles almost two dozen participants active in the local foods market, including marketers such as Gotham Greens' rooftop greenhouse operations; bricks-and-mortar retailers ranging from Bi-Lo supermarkets, Fairway Market, and The Kroger Co. to Meijer, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market; online grocery services like FreshDirect and Good Eggs; farmers' markets and CSAs; and foodservice providers like Bon Appetit Management Co. and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

In addition to the Packaged Facts consumer survey, primary research includes on-site examinations of retail and foodservice channels. Secondary research involved evaluating and comparing data from more than 200 articles and reports found in industry publications; scrutinizing the websites of individual participants in the local foods market; reports by industry associations such as the National Restaurant Association; government data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; annual reports, 10Ks, transcripts of earnings calls, and other financial releases from public companies; and other Packaged Facts reports.

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