This spring and summer could shape up to be the brightest yet for local product sales.
A recent study by The Hartman Group shows that 73% of consumers are buying locally sourced items. Of these, 62% say they're buying local at the supermarket.
Over the past year especially, retailers have stepped up their supply and marketing of goods produced close to home. Price Chopper, for example, recently announced that it would start offering more local products throughout the store. And Ukrop's, K-VA-T and many others are fueling sales by using in-store signage to promote area farmers.
Business is good, but the competition is growing tighter, according to Laurie Demeritt, president of The Hartman Group. Although supermarkets lead all channels in local sales, her study shows that farmers' markets are close behind, claiming 61% of purchases. Chain restaurants like Chipotle and foodservice companies like Bon Appetit and Sodexo are also jumping into the game.
Shoppers are also demanding more selection — 73% want to see a greater variety of locally sourced fruits and vegetables, and 57% want more meats, poultry and fish.
Because of these diverse demands, supermarkets should embrace alternative formats, explained Demeritt.
“Consumers are shopping multiple channels, so those retailers that embrace some of those other outlets and sponsor a farmers' market, or allow it to take place in their parking lot — those are the folks that are being innovative about what shoppers' true needs are,” she said.