The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified local and regional food systems as one of four pillars to revitalize the rural economy, create jobs, and improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.
Buying local supports the farmers and small businesses in local communities are catching on quickly.
Like craft beers, consumers associate craft foods with foods made in small batches with specialized, local ingredients. Latching onto the “local is good” mentality, major food manufacturers produce large quantities of craft food.
According to Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert, working closely with ConAgra Foods Inc., is working to extend the local trend to other food and beverages, as consumers continue to seek unique tastes and foods with authentic origin stories. Marie Callender’s Razzleberry Pie, made with whole Oregon Marionberries and North American red raspberries, is an example of a food that looks and tastes homemade but can be found in freezer aisles nationwide.
Food Safety Training similarly argued that local ingredients are getting their due, noting that all over America, people are voicing their concerns about where their food comes from, and chefs and restaurateurs are listening. Menus are getting more transparent about where food is from, and more establishments are using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
The local trend has several benefits. Consumers perceive local ingredients as fresher, more wholesome, and more authentic; there is an expectation that ingredients will be local, especially in high-end restaurants.
Nation’s Restaurant News noted that Technomic cited “micro-local” as being one of 10 foodservice trends to look forward to in the next decade.
Datassential also finds that Americans are warming to local sourcing and focusing on better-quality products. The research firm says 84% of consumers believe it’s increasingly crucial for chains to offer fresh, local, organic, or natural ingredients.
“Instead of basics, we see more premium, interesting ingredients and flavors showing up on menus,” Datassential Senior Director Jana Mann explained.
Technomic maintains that the local sourcing trend must gain even more traction before it severely impacts most consumers’ ordering behavior. Only 40% of consumers indicate that local sourcing influences their behavior. Analysts expect local sourcing to be a customer-driven mandate over the next few years.
Market Hub is a robust sourcing directory for items, packaging, and service providers, and can help manufacturers quickly find local ingredients.
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