Shoppers’ support for locally produced food and drink is continuing to flourish, latest YouGov figures show.

Eating local produce is now considered important by 70% of British shoppers, while almost 60% have bought locally sourced produce at some point over the last year and more than one in three in the past two weeks.

Sales are being driven by perceptions of increased quality, the positive impact on the local and regional economy and creation of local jobs.

When asked what produce they would be most likely to buy if a locally sourced alternative was available, 66% of shoppers said eggs (compared to only 30% in 2015). Just under 60% said milk (22% in 2015) and 58% said meat (40% in 2015).

However, convenience stores that sell local produce still need to do more to communicate the fact. While 82% of shoppers expect to buy local produce from a farm shop, only 24% expect to find it in convenience stores, the figures also reveal.

The East of England Co-op, which commissioned the report, is currently running its Sourced Locally Fortnight to encourage more consumers to buy local produce and dispel the myth that local produce can only be bought in farm shops.

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “We want to shine a spotlight on local farmers and producers to encourage more shoppers to consciously buy local produce. By shopping locally, people are helping to bring additional money into their local economy and safeguarding local jobs, whilst reducing food miles.”

Emanuele Giovannetti, professor of economics at Anglia Ruskin University, added: “It’s encouraging to see people’s awareness of food miles in the UK is growing, with 44% saying that lower mileage would encourage them to buy locally sourced produce, up from just 36% in 2015.

“With more than one in three Britons buying local produce in the past two weeks, it’s clear there’s a growing demand for local produce. This is a call to action for retailers to listen to local communities and give people what they want.”

The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. More than 71% of land in the UK is used for farming and the UK is 76% self-sufficient in producing home grown food.