A preference for local food is a growing trend amongst consumers in the UK and Ireland, according to Bord Bia’s Periscope report.

Outlining the results of the report Michal Slawski of Bord Bia says in Ireland, seven out of 10 adults consider buying local produce to be important when shopping for food – as a comparison; just over half of adults in the UK feel the same.

When asked to define what local meant, most people in the UK and Ireland believe that local food refers to food that is produced in close proximity to where they live, he said.

Slawski says Irish consumers believe what they buy at farmers markets can be called local, while those from the UK believe that only food produced within a 20 mile radius is local.

Digging a little deeper, Slawski says in this Periscope report for the UK and Ireland, consumers were asked why they had a preference for local.

The main reasons included the quality of local food was seen to be higher, there was a perceived lack of preservatives, better health benefits and better traceability. Reduction of carbon footprint is also a commonly cited reason for preferring to buy local food.

Slawski also highlighted a recent Mintel survey found that some 57% of Republic of Ireland and 43% of Northern Ireland consumers felt that supermarkets should supply more locally sourced fruit and vegetables (2014).

Furthermore, he said that consumers think that supermarkets that use locally produced fruit and vegetables help to support local farmers, and in turn support Irish jobs and the wider economy.

Another survey this time conducted among leading Irish restaurant owners and chefs from around the country has shown that 70% of those surveyed have increased the amount of local ingredients used in their restaurants in the past two years, Slawski said.

The survey was conducted among previous recipients of Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Award, 85% of those surveyed feel that their business has improved because of their transparency regarding sourcing of ingredients.