A new Bord Bia study has revealed that two thirds of Irish consumers believe it is important to purchase local food. The results of Bord Bia’s research into consumer attitudes to local food were presented today to over 200 small food and drink producers at Bord Bia’s Small Business Open Day in Enfield, Co. Meath.
Bord Bia also revealed that the number of small food and drink businesses it works with has grown by over 40% (42%) from 400 to 700 in just under four years. Bord Bia estimates that the small food and drink business sector is worth some €400 million.
Opening today’s conference the Minister of the State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, Andrew Doyle T.D. told delegates, “The agri-food sector is a key driver of sustainable growth and building solid relationships and having a compelling brand story are key to growing sustainable businesses. Bord Bia will continue to support Irish client companies in this regard, providing advice on market opportunities and emerging trends. The most immediate impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has been sterling depreciation and volatility. While demand for premium quality, safe food products is increasing long term, today’s advice and information can help companies in very practical ways to hold on to business.”
Bord Bia’s study explores Irish consumers’ definition of ‘local food’, and their attitudes towards ‘local food’, whilst understanding what motivates them to purchase ‘local food’. Speaking about the research findings, Mary Morrissey, Bord Bia’s Food and Beverage Manager said, “It is encouraging for small food businesses to hear consumers saying they buy local food products at least once a week and that one third are purchasing more today than they did a year ago. Although the meaning of local has evolved since we last studied it in 2010, it continues to be about people, place and small scale, and is now considered now more readily available. She added, “The fact that Bord Bia has nearly doubled its number of clients is affirmation of the resilience of the small business sector in tackling challenges and in converting ideas and concepts to commercial business. It is clear that the sector continues to offer opportunities for small producers to deliver on demand for local and quality foods directly linked back to the producer. Consumers want to connect with the story of the producer.”
Highlights from the study include:
• Irish people claim to buy local food at least once a week
• 1 in 3 consumers say they are purchasing more today than they did 12 months ago
• Two thirds of Irish consumers believe it is important purchase local food
• Two thirds of consumers perceive local food to be of high quality with natural and 100% ingredients, rendering it better quality than mass produced food.
• The research highlighted that there are a number of different meanings and associations with local food. Some 3 in 4 consumers understand it to be food made, produced and sourced within their local area, compared to a similar study in 2010 where there was more focus on the producer behind the product
• Nearly 4 in 5 of people believe that they are supporting the community when purchasing local foods
• 3 in 4 believe that this food is fresher having been produced locally
• The awareness of the term ‘local food’ has fallen by 16% since 2010 to 77% while the awareness of the term ‘artisan food’ has increased by 26% to 50%.
• Only half of consumers associate local food with being expensive
• Further associations with scale mean that local food is often thought of on a smaller scale with homemade associations and not mass produced
• In terms of product benefits, local food is understood to be better for you thanks to the perceived quality of the ingredients, freshness and health cues.
• Local food has become more widely available and there is a growing association with gifting and special occasions.