Georgina Wild of HIM sings the praises of locally-produced food and offers retailers some advice

Local sourcing is something that’s grown over the past few years with many retailers actively looking to expand their local food offer. Consumer interest in locally-produced goods has also increased significantly, leading to a boom in demand.

Local foods are generally considered to be produced within 30 miles, although ‘local’ can be sometimes be considered as the home nation such as Scotland or Wales. 

Retailers selling locally-sourced foods are perceived to be not only supporting local producers and suppliers, but also helping to reduce food miles and lessening the impact on the environment. 

In addition, locally-produced foods can create a talking point and be used to create theatre in store.

If retailers are in any doubt about selling locally-sourced produce, then hopefully the following facts will convince them otherwise. 

Each year HIM speaks to 30,000 convenience store customers while they are shopping as part of our annual Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP). 

Our research results included the following facts:

- 64% of convenience customers said that if the milk sold in the store they were shopping in came from a local farmer, it would encourage them to buy it from that store

- 66% of customers said that if the fresh fruit and vegetables sold were from a local farmer they would be encouraged to buy them
- 65% gave the same response for eggs, and 59% for cheese. 

So there is significant demand for locally produced goods in store.

Tips for retailers

- Make your store a destination for great local produce – if you are going to offer local produce it needs to be of good quality and well packaged to make it appealing to the customers

- Why not team up with a local baker who can supply your bread, or perhaps team up with a local butcher to offer a selection of meats in your store? Look at other local producers and suppliers of cakes, vegetables, fruit, cider, honey etc to differentiate your range of products in store

- Make sure the “locally produced” message is clearly communicated to customers both in store and also on any local marketing such as leaflets and advertising in order to raise awareness

- Finally, ask staff to highlight new lines of locally-produced foods to customers.