Why Buy Local?
We hear it everywhere: Buy Local, Small Business Saturday, Support Local, but do we really know why? Do we know what these initiatives mean and how they impact our country and local businesses?
Supporting local helps sustain the local and national economy, while having a direct, positive impact on the individuals who run these businesses.
Additionally, many of these businesses help protect the environment through responsibility and sustainability, and help bring communities together.
While there are many industries that are a part of these initiatives, one of the many greatly impacted by these movements is the agricultural sector.
Here, we explore the post-pandemic shift of consumer purchasing habits, the positive impact of buying local produce and what local agricultural businesses should know about promoting their products and businesses.
2020 came in like a wrecking ball, hitting not only the local economy, but the entire world. We had empty sidewalks and streets and day by day, we saw storefronts close. The pandemic unknowingly created a shift in consumer behaviors, one that could positively impact local businesses in the years to come.
In 2020, we saw owners of local businesses and restaurants shifting their own behaviors, offering meal kits, drive-by produce pickup at local markets and initiatives like the Eat Local Supper Club, promoting local restaurants and offering a sense of community while the world was stuck indoors. These programs ultimately changed the way that people began purchasing products, focusing on supporting their local economies during these dark times.
According to a study conducted by Brightpearl, the pandemic triggered a shift in consumer shopping habits, with 75% of consumers planning to shop more locally over the next year (and potentially years to come).
As the country continues to open its doors and return to normalcy, consumers are becoming more aware of the economic impact of their purchasing behaviors and have focused their spending on supporting local.
The Positive Impact of Buying Local Produce
While the post-pandemic shift in consumer behaviors is positive news for the agriculture industry, it still faces many threats, particularly with imports coming in hot.
Producers are facing increased competition from imports, especially those from Mexico. In recent years Mexico has greatly expanded the weeks during which their imports compete directly with states’ specialty crops.
These threats have both local agribusinesses and consumers alike wondering what they can do to support their local economy. However, it also leaves consumers wondering why they really should buy local produce over imports. Are consumers really having an impact if they pick up a pack of locally grown blueberries over imports, especially if the price is lower for the import? Why is it important?
The individual choices of consumers and retailers have tremendous economic impacts for farms and their employees, local communities, counties, state and ultimately the nation.
The Benefits of Buying Local Produce
- Supporting local helps build communities and their economies, and in turn, provides income to residents of the commodity’s origin.
- Many local farms have environmental responsibility and sustainability initiatives in place to protect the environment.
- There is a reason why certain produce is grown in a certain state, or even county – taste! The climate, soil and unique environment of the produce’s origin makes those peaches perfectly ripe and Vidalia Onions extra sweet. Even harvesting practices are regulated to ensure consumers are receiving the best tasting product possible.
Capturing Consumer Attention
It’s great for businesses to jump on the Buy Local bandwagon, but without promotional support to encourage and educate consumers on why they should purchase local, we could see significant economic losses in the industry.
What can agribusinesses do to avoid this? What are consumers interested in?
Education is key. Consumers need to learn about the direct impact of their purchase of local produce.
In addition, it is important to educate consumers on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and what to look for when walking the grocery aisles. However, it doesn’t just stop at the consumer level. Retailers also need to be informed on how and why to promote locally grown produce in their stores and the benefits of doing so.
It is important for agribusinesses to learn what is important to consumers and what their interests are, in order to capture their attention.
In a recent custom study conducted by Ideabar, perceptions surrounding what consumers look for when purchasing produce offered insight into the consumer’s mind and in turn should be leveraged when agribusinesses are developing campaign messaging.
Factors of Importance when Purchasing Produce
- Locally Grown
- Supporting Local Farms + Community + Businesses
- High Quality
- Better Nutrition
- Environmental Sustainability
Ideabar knows agriculture.
Ideabar works with Georgia Grown, the marketing and development program for the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA); The Vidalia Onion Committee, a marketing division of the GDA, promoting the sweetest onion in the world; and Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA), providing a united voice for Southeast specialty-crop farmers.