DECEMBER 2007: More shoppers were planning to buy their food at small, local storesthis Christmas than at any time for decades, according to a survey.
A report by business advisers Deloitte & Touche showed that ‘buying local’ at independent stores or markets is set to be a major trend this year. While the big supermarkets and high street chains spend tens of millions of pounds on lavish Christmas advertising campaigns, shoppers are more interested in food that is not “triple wrapped and vacuum sealed”, according to the study. It shows the proportion of consumers saying they will do most of their food shopping at local independent stores or markets has risen from 20 per cent last year to 29 per cent. The figure for street or farmers’ markets is 16 per cent, up from nine per cent. The report says: “While consumers are doing most of their main food shopping at supermarkets, they are seemingly returning to specialist stores, such as delicatessens, and are visiting food markets to widen their tastes and access greater choice and higher perceived quality.”Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said: “In the last few years, there has been a rise of interest in local food. Every major supermarket in the UK has a policy of sourcing local food, and they are all responding to something they see going on and to changes in the market.The local sales through farm shops, farmers’ markets and cooperatives in the UK last year and the year before rose faster than sales of organic food in the supermarkets.”* A new grassroots movement is encouraging people to reduce their ecological impact by buying only locally-sourced food, regardless of the season.In one initiative, 19 families in Eastern Scotland signed up to The Fife Diet, agreeing to eat only food with ingredients grown in the ancient kingdom. Co-ordinator Mike Small said it shows what realistic changes people can make while enjoying local food.