Ethical and Whole Foods Demanded By More and More Shoppers

Shopper Demand for Local & Ethical Foods Sees Rapid Growth

Whole Foods Demanded By More and More Shoppers

D & E Farms, Franklinville, N.J. (photo by Emily Roesly, courtesy of

Nearly a third of U.S. shoppers say they have specifically purchased locally produced food over the last month, double the number in 2006, according to new consumer research released by food and grocery analysts IGD. Many do so to obtain the freshest produce, but a desire to support local jobs, farms and stores has also played an important role.

Support for ethically produced foods in general has withstood the pressures of an 18-month recession and is in fact growing, despite the tough economic conditions. When asked about food they have specifically purchased over the last month, shoppers responded:

• 30% said locally produced food (up from 15% in 2006)
• 27% Fairtrade products (up from 9%)
• 18% products with high animal welfare standards (up from 11%)

Thinking Morally & Buying Locally

Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive of IGD, said: “These figures prove what we have been saying throughout the recession – shoppers are looking for both value and values. They are not simply looking for cheaper food in tough times, they also expect the grocery industry to support their moral and ethical values.”

Drilling down into reasons for supporting local food in particular, most said that it was fresher, but the biggest riser over the last few years has been support for the local economy:

• 57% said they purchased local food because it has not travelled as far and is therefore fresher
• 54% wanted to support local producers and farmers (up from 28% in 2006)
• 34% wanted to support local retailers (18% in 2006)
• 29% wanted to keep jobs in the local area (up from 14%)

Farmers Markets More Popular than Ever

IGD also asked shoppers what improvements they would like to see to their food and grocery shopping experience. Once again, support for locally produced food was up, with 31% saying they would like more local products available to them, compared with 12% in 2005. One in five (20%) would like a farmers’ market or farm shop to be established nearby, up from 15% in 2005.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said that the number of farmers markets in the U.S. increased by 13% in 2009, illustrating just how many communities and consumers across the country are searching out fresh food and supporting their local farms. Farmers and consumers connected at 5,274 farmers markets in 2009, up from 4,685 in 2008.

To visit the IGD web site for further information, go to: IGD, The food & grocery experts
by Jeff Deasy for American Feast