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Why we buy local (and why we don't)

Actu - Sondage achat local, checklist

More than 3 out of 4 Canadians say that they favour the purchase of local fruit and vegetables. This according to a recent survey conducted by Leger Marketing for Equiterre.

The survey shows that buying local is a primarily a political act for Canadian consumers, more likely to be motivated by a concern for the economy than for the environment. 94% of respondents said that buying local produce encourages the local economy.

The survey also reveals that in situations of choice, Canadians prefer to buy a product that was grown in Canada, even from a faraway province, rather than an American product that was grown nearer by. In Canada, local has more to do with political boundaries that it does with actual distance.

To test the strength of respondents' convictions, we asked them if they usually bought strawberries in winter.

Nearly 42% of those who said that they favour buying local, said yes.

Seems contradictory, but is it?

As the study also shows, there are currently many obstacles to buying local:

  • we do most of our grocery shopping at one or two places of purchase
  • the supermarket is our most frequented place of purchase, but...
  • we are more likely to buy local food from other kinds of vendors, e.g., the neighbourhood greengrocer, a market stall
  • we only spend 30 minutes at the place of purchase
  • we aren't willing to spend much more time searching for local products
  • variety can be hard to resist 

Fortunately, the study proposes some solutions:

  • make it easier for consumers to identify local produce (no more guessing where those apples in the supermarket come from!)
  • make local produce more widely available
  • offer a greater variety of local produce

Read the study online: Eating at home – Canadian households and the motivations and obstacles related to buying locally grown food, 2011