Local food still has big draw

New studies report local food continues to have a strong grip on U.S. consumers.

In a consumer survey, Market Force Information reported in June that 58% of shoppers said locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products were important to them.

Meeting the demand

Produce marketers say they make business decisions in response to the trend.

For Brooks Tropicals, Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for the Homestead, Fla.-based company, said the appeal of local can sometimes extend to “USA grown” for consumers.

“I find most consumers are willing to expand what they consider locally grown if the fruits or veggies just can’t be grown where they live,” Ostlund said.

If consumers can’t find local production, she said they can still be enthusiastic about U.S. grown produce.

“Especially with tropicals like star fruit, passion fruit, dragon fruit, (consumers) are willing to expand the definition of local,” she said.

“It’s a good value to them that its domestic.”

Ostlund said retailers can help prompt the consumer demand by creating displays of locally grown or U.S. grown items.

Ostlund said Brooks Tropicals is now enjoying the height of domestic season tropical fruit, including avocados, star fruit, dragon fruit and guavas. Passion fruit harvest will expand in September, she said.