A study published by A.T. Kearney surveyed over 1,000 people about their preferences in regards to locally grown food and large grocery chains. The results of the study indicated that the new Locavore trend is growing, and is showing no sign of slowing down.
A Locavore is a person whose diet consists partially or entirely of locally grown or produced food. This trend was once widely viewed as a flash in the pan a few years ago, but is now gaining wider attention by the grocery industry as preferences for local food increase and demand heightens. In fact, in the article Ripe for Grocers: The Local Food Movement which details the results of the survey, it states that “Sales of local food have increased an estimated 13 percent per year since 2008, and are now worth at least $9 billion.” This is a staggering increase which no one could have correctly forecasted. But this $9 billion segment of the grocery industry is mainly comprised of farmers markets and local grocery stores. Will large chain stores catch up with the Locavore trend?
Trust is a huge issue for consumers shopping for groceries. While the most common place for an average consumer to shop for groceries is at big-box stores and national supermarkets, these types of venues rank well below small specialty stores and local farmers markets when it comes to consumer trust. A fine balance must be struck if large stores are to retain their customers’ loyalty. Locally grown and produced foods must be made readily available in their stores, but a great deal of transparency is needed about where the food came from. If retailers use the term ‘local’ to describe vegetables sourced from hundreds of miles away, any trust that could have been gained from this interaction is squandered.
Retailers must embrace the changing climate of grocery. Customers value fresh, quality goods which they can trust to be good for themselves and their family. But customers’ demand for goods including fewer pesticides and shorter shelf life throws traditional supply chains into question. The industry must re-evaluate the traditional supply chain if they are to meet the changing expectations of the modern consumer and react to the modern environment of speed, quality, and choice.