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Two-thirds of Irish Consumers Believe it is ‘Important to Buy Local Food’

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Two-thirds of Irish Consumers Believe it is ‘Important to Buy Local Food’

Two-thirds of Irish Consumers Believe it is ‘Important to Buy Local Food’
January 27
09:00 2017

A new Bord Bia study has revealed that two thirds of Irish consumers believe it is important purchase local food. The results of Bord Bia’s research into consumer attitudes to local food were presented to over 200 small food and drink producers at Bord Bia’s Small Business Open Day in Enfield, County Meath. Bord Bia also revealed that the number of small food and drink businesses it works with has grown by over 40% (42%) from 400 to 700 in just under four years. Bord Bia estimates that the small food and drink business sector is worth some €400 million.

Opening the conference the Minister of the State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, Andrew Doyle TD told delegates: “The agri-food sector is a key driver of sustainable growth and building solid relationships and having a compelling brand story are key to growing sustainable businesses. 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.”

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’. Speaking about the research findings, Mary Morrissey, Bord Bia’s Food and Beverage Manager, said: “It is encouraging for small food businesses to hear consumers saying they buy local food products at least once a week and that one third are purchasing more today than they did a year ago. 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.” She added: “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. Consumers want to connect with the story of the producer.”

Highlights from the study include:
•       Irish people claim to buy local food at least once a week
•       1 in 3 consumers say they are purchasing more today than they did 12 months ago
•       Two thirds of Irish consumers believe it is important purchase local food
•       Two thirds of consumers perceive local food to be of high quality with natural and 100% ingredients, rendering it better quality than mass produced food.
•       The research highlighted that there are a number of different meanings and associations with local food. Some 3 in 4 consumers understand it 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
•       Nearly 4 in 5 of people believe that they are supporting the community when purchasing local foods
•       3 in 4 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 Supports
At the event, Bord Bia provided information on the range of programmes and facilities available to companies and updated the industry on the planned activities for the year ahead. “Today’s seminar aims to remind small food producers of the range of accessible services to develop business. We have designed services in Bord Bia specific to the needs of small owner managed businesses,” said Mary Morrissey. “We provide consumer and market insights; help embed knowledge in key areas such as strategy, sales and marketing and finance, offer access to buyers in Ireland and export markets; help build better brands through workshops and one to one mentoring and invest in their marketing development via our grants programmes. This year, some 200 companies are expected to be approved for grants and marketing assistance totalling €1.2 million, further enabling the development of this sector.”

Conference Overview
The Open Day, themed ‘Disruption – paving a new path for success’, provided an opportunity to share valuable insights into the current market, changing consumer attitudes and new innovative ways of doing business. The business owners heard stories from paid accommodation, frozen food, and food waste to premium dairy, craft beer, and healthy snacking.  The conference presentations focused on how small businesses can interpret changing environmental trends and use them to grow their business.

Karol Keane, Food & Drink Operations Manager, Airbnb, detailed how they have challenged the global paid accommodation model, while James Rutter, Brand and Strategy Director with COOK UK discussed how their business has grown in the frozen food sector facing decline in the UK. Padraig Brennan, Bord Bia’s Director of Markets presented the challenges and opportunities for the Irish food and drink sector in the year ahead.A panel, chaired by Damien O’Reilly, RTE Broadcaster & Journalist, examined ‘disruption’ from an Irish company perspective, featuring Glenilen Farm and Macroom Buffalo Cheese, both from Co. Cork, Metalman Brewing from Co. Waterford, Wyldsson from Dublin and Food Cloud, the food waste initiative. The afternoon concluded with workshops providing small food producers with an opportunity to get the latest industry information including category data and consumer insight from Bord Bia’s sector managers and a deep dive on the local food research. There was also a showcase of resources available to small businesses on offer from Bord Bia and other support agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc.

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