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The rise and rise of "local"

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

The $8 trillion global food industry is in the middle of a transformation, driven by shifting consumer priorities. More and more, consumers are ignoring mass-produced options and looking for food with provenance. Where was it made? Who produced it? What's the story behind it?

Global consumers are increasingly looking for the country of origin on food and drink labels. This is driven by consumer desire for authenticity, to support local businesses post-Covid-19 and to shop from smaller, more sustainable sources.

How can small Australian businesses adapt and capitalise on this trend to attract new customers? The 2021 New Nutrition Business' 2021 Top 10 key Trends in Food report recommends these three strategies.

1. Emphasise local and Australia made

In Australia, 72% of those metro-based said they make an effort to buy food and drink products with the Australian Made or Grown logo, and that was before COVID-19. Nielsen's study in May 2020 found that the impacts of CoVid and Australia's bushfires only accelerated this trend.

Fueled by empty shelves in supermarkets, lockdown restrictions, and food insecurity fears, consumers turned to more local options. Farmers markets and small local grocers surged in popularity, proving that a shorter supply chain may be the way of the future.

"People are definitely shopping smaller; they want to support the locals rather than the big guys and they want convenience and increased safety," Leanne McCoy, MacKenzie Row owner.

To attract consumers to your brand using this trend, New Nutrition Business recommends aiming to create trust and transparency, which will provide assurance about the product source and show the brands stance on safety, welfare, and quality. Demonstrating a commitment to supporting local communities, farms and smaller producers is a strategy but an innate approach used by Three Blue Ducks in Byron Bay. By sourcing directly from local farmers, consumers can see the restaurant's values while also feeling good about their decision contributing to the local community.

"People are more aware and what to look out for. This was happening well before COVID-19 and bushfires. There is a push and a movement that has been growing for a long time. Shopping local is gathering momentum and the more people do it, become aware and pay attention- the more other people are doing it," say Bret Cameron, Head Chef of Three Blue Ducks, Rosebery.

2. Link to the original source

"Local" isn't the only hero in the shopping aisle; in fact, 26% of global consumers look for the country of origin on food and drink labels according to ADM. Consumers are increasingly seeking out food and beverage with clear provenance and the authenticity and quality that usually comes with that.

Italy's DOC system which guarantees the origin of wines, cheeses and artisanal products is a great example of this, proving people are happy to try something from outside their region, provided the provenance is clear.

Homogenised experiences from global brands are losing popularity. Background stories of where a product was grown or even influenced by is gaining momentum. Provided a product is 'authentic', and the provenance is clear on the product, people are happy to try something from outside their region.

3. Inspired by its origin

This strategy is about identifying a particular ingredient that can only be sourced from a product's place of origin—for example, Manuka Honey.

This honey is made from the nectar of the manuka tree, which is native to New Zealand and found in certain parts of South Eastern Australia. Because of the use of manuka, the resulting honey has a higher concentration of Methylglyoxal than other honey, giving it antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. This benefit and its origin are emphasised strongly in all manuka honey branding, setting it apart in a crowded market.

Local continues to grow in popularity, leaving the homogenisation of food in decline. Our desire to support someone in our community, experience authentic flavour and celebrate an origin's influence on a product means that brands need to increase telling their brand's story. Who is your local farmer that produces a core ingredient, and what is their story? A compelling story is a difference between a consumer buying your product or a competitor sitting next to it in an aisle. Capturing potential customers' attention through emotive digital content will increase brand recognition placing your product front of mind.

Read about the mood food trend here

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