Local Food Survey: Grocery Customers Most Likely to Buy Local

More and more restaurants, grocery stores and other food distributors are putting a larger emphasis on sourcing local ingredients, according to research from the National Restaurant Association. Local food options can be more environmentally friendly, cost effective and appealing to consumers who want to support local businesses. So how many consumers prefer buying local food when possible? We asked 1,000 respondents about their food buying habits and their thoughts on local food.

local food

Restaurant Consumers

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 10% of respondents said that they last ate at a full service restaurant within the past day. 25% have eaten at full service restaurants within the past week. 22% have in the past month. 17% have in the past three months. 9% have in the past year. 10% said it’s been more than a year since they last ate at a full service restaurant. And 8% said they aren’t restaurant consumers.

Just 4% of restaurant consumers said that they always patronize restaurants that source food items locally. 12% eat at such restaurants most of the time. 23% do so about half the time. 26% said that they rarely ever eat at restaurants that source food locally. 4% never do. And 31% said they aren’t sure. Respondents named Olive Garden and Red Lobster as their favorite restaurants that offer local food items.

Quick Service Restaurants

Fast food and quick service restaurants can also offer local food options. 17% of respondents said they last ate at a fast food or quick service restaurant in the past day. 34% have gone within the past week. 22% have within the past month. 11% have in the past three months. 5% have gone to quick service restaurants in the past year. 3% said it’s been more than a year. And 8% said they aren’t quick service restaurant consumers.

However, just 3% of quick service restaurant consumers said they always eat at quick service restaurants that source food items locally. 10% eat at such restaurants most of the time. 18% do so about half the time. 22% said they rarely ever eat at fast food or quick service restaurants that source food ingredients locally. 8% never do. And 38% said they aren’t sure if any of the quick service restaurants they patronize offer local options. Respondents mentioned Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King and Chipotle as fast food or quick service restaurants with local options.

Grocery Consumers

Finally, 23% of respondents said that they last bought groceries in the past day. 53% last bought groceries within the past week. 16% have within the past month. 3% have within the past three months. 2% said it’s been more than three months. And just 4% of respondents are not grocery consumers.

And 7% of grocery consumers said that they always buy grocery items that were sourced locally or made with local ingredients. 14% buy local grocery items most of the time. 21% do so about half the time. Another 21% said they rarely ever buy local grocery items. 6% never do. And 32% were unsure. Respondents named Walmart, Kroger, Publix and Safeway as grocery stores where they purchase local food items.

Key Takeaways

Grocery consumers seem a bit more likely than restaurant consumers to purchase local food items. However, those who buy local grocery items at least half the time were also more likely to patronize restaurants that offer locally sourced food options. It could also be interesting to note how many consumers, especially quick service restaurant consumers, were unaware of whether or not their food items were locally sourced. So it’s not necessarily a must for consumers to have local options. But if restaurants or other food brands want to attract those customers that care about buying local, they need to make it really clear on menus and in marketing materials which food items are made with local ingredients. And it could also be beneficial to quickly state some of the benefits of buying local ingredients and food items to inform those who were unaware.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Local Foods_Sue Balcom by U.S. Department of Agriculture under CC BY-ND 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on November 1-6 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Pilon
Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.