Two thirds of Irish consumers believe it’s important to buy local food

Two thirds of Irish consumers believe it is important purchase local food, a new Bord Bia study has revealed.

The results of Bord Bia’s research into consumer attitudes to local food were presented today to over 200 small food and drink producers at Bord Bia’s Small Business Open Day in Enfield, Co. Meath.

The research also revealed that one third of consumers admitted that they are purchasing more local food today than they did 12 months ago.

Different definitions and associations with ‘local food’ were also highlighted in the Bord Bia research.

Some three in four consumers understood ‘local food’ to be food made, produced and sourced within their local area, compared to a similar study in 2010 where there was more focus on the producer behind the product.

Other Research Findings:
  • Nearly four in five people believe that they are supporting the community when purchasing local foods.
  • Three in four believe that this food is fresher having been produced locally.
  • The awareness of the term ‘local food’ has fallen by 16% since 2010 to 77% while the awareness of the term ‘artisan food’ has increased by 26% to 50%.
  • Only half of consumers associate local food with being expensive.
  • Further associations with scale mean that local food is often thought of on a smaller scale with homemade associations and not mass produced.
  • In terms of product benefits, local food is understood to be better for you thanks to the perceived quality of the ingredients, freshness and health cues.
  • Local food has become more widely available and there is a growing association with gifting and special occasions.

Bord Bia also revealed that the number of small food and drink businesses it works with has grown by 42%, from 400 to 700 in just under four years.

It estimates that the small food and drink business sector is worth some €400m to the Irish economy.

The Irish Agri-Food Sector

The agri-food sector is a key driver of sustainable growth, according to the Minister of the State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle.

Building solid relationships and having a compelling brand story are key to growing sustainable businesses, Minister Doyle told delegates at the Bord Bia conference.

Bord Bia will continue to support Irish client companies in this regard, providing advice on market opportunities and emerging trends.

“The most immediate impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has been sterling depreciation and volatility.

“While demand for premium quality, safe food products is increasing long term, today’s advice and information can help companies in very practical ways to hold on to business,” he said.

Bord Bia’s study explores Irish consumers’ definition of ‘local food’, and their attitudes towards ‘local food’, whilst understanding what motivates them to purchase ‘local food’.

It is encouraging for small food businesses to hear consumers saying they buy local food products at least once a week, Bord Bia’s Food and Beverage Manager, Mary Morrissey, said.

Although the meaning of local has evolved since we last studied it in 2010, it continues to be about people, place and small scale, and is now considered now more readily available.

“The fact that Bord Bia has nearly doubled its number of clients is affirmation of the resilience of the small business sector in tackling challenges and in converting ideas and concepts to commercial business.

“It is clear that the sector continues to offer opportunities for small producers to deliver on demand for local and quality foods directly linked back to the producer,” she said.

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