Date Published: 13 October 2006

How much more are we prepared to pay for locally produced foods?

Healthy Food
Food research from Reading University.

A survey carried out by the University of Reading has revealed that consumers are prepared to pay a premium for locally-produced food over imported goods.

Scientists from the Department of Agriculture and Food Economics have found that on average consumers are willing to pay a premium of 88 pence per 500 grams for lamb, and 97 pence per 500 grams for strawberries for locally-sourced produce.

They would be willing to pay a much smaller premium for UK, but not local, produce over imports - 21 pence and 12 pence respectively. Older people and those with higher incomes are prepared to pay the highest premium for local foods.

Professor Bruce Traill, principal investigator of the Rural Economy and Land Use research project (RELU) at the University of Reading, said:

? Consumers think of local foods as being produced and sold within a 30-50 mile radius. Focus groups suggest that local foods are considered to be fresher and tastier. Supporting local farmers is considered important by some consumers but others argue that farmers are already rich, receive considerable support from government and don't need any more.

_ However, many felt that foods produced locally should be cheaper whereas in fact they were thought to be often far too expensive to justify purchase. They were also considered inconvenient to purchase, most people preferring to do all their shopping in one supermarket rather than make a special trip to a farmers' market or sign up to an organic box scheme. These were considered to be the only purchase routes even though in practice many supermarkets do sell local produce.?

The study took in the views of 222 people, who were asked for their views on a range of topics, including origin, organics, price, freshness, food miles and support for local businesses

Overall the results suggest that many consumers are prepared to pay a substantial premium for locally produced food if it is displayed alongside the imported alternative, but are not prepared to go to the length of making a time-consuming visit to a specialist outlet such as a farmers' market.

The premiums though that consumers are willing to pay appear large enough for supermarkets, especially those targeted at affluent consumers, more actively to market ranges of local produce.


Source: Reading University (England, UK).

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