The Locavore Movement
Our food system is changing in response to consumer demands; more and more people want to buy food produced by people in their communities. When asked why “buying local” is important in a survey conducted by AT Kearney recently, 66% of shoppers said that they wanted to spend their money to help their local economy, 60% said it was because offering locally made and grown goods increased the assortment of products available to them, and 45% said that local food spends less time in distribution and is fresher,and therefore, healthier. As the effects of climate change on our country become increasingly apparent, 19% of shoppers said that they wanted to buy local to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere (the shorter the distance the food has to travel to the store, the less gas burned up getting it there), and 19% of those surveyed stated that they wanted to encourage local, organic and sustainable production of foods.
The definition of local is still being hashed out by all the stake holders in this locavore movement. Some say that local means “within 100 miles” while others feel that local means “local to our state”. Shoppers prefer buying their local food at Farmer’s Markets and Farm Stores first, with the local health food store or natural food market coming in at a close second. Big grocery chains are taking notice and are working out ways to stock locally made foods and produce. According to AT Kearney, Walmart, the nations largest retailer, has decided to embrace the local foods movement and has committed to dedicating 9% of their grocery space for local foods here in the US, and 30% in Canada. Smaller grocery chains are following suit and are now making space for locally produced meats, dairy, eggs, produce and products.
Norm’s Farms invited into Harris Teeter, Kroger and Lowe’s Foods for their Local Shelves
Here in North Carolina regional grocery chains like Lowe’s Foods and Harris Teeter, a subsidiary of Kroger, are doing the same. Kroger, a national chain, has made a similar commitment to local foods demonstrating their intent to follow the changing preferences of today’s consumers. Norm’s Farms has been invited to stock our jams and jellies in the local section of roughly 16 stores for Lowe’s and Kroger throughout the Garner, Raleigh, Durham and Pinehurst/Southern Pines areas of the state. We’re in a similar number of stores for Harris Teeter, too, and those locations are spread evenly across the state, from New Bern on the coast to Asheville and Boone in the mountains. We are using a local small distributor named B&B Pecans to manage our inventory and distribution, and are gearing up to provide demos in the stores so that shoppers become aware of our products and where they can be found in each store.
It will be interesting to see how consumers react to these local sections in traditional grocery stores, as they tend to hold a wide variety of products from pecans and peanuts to barbecue sauce to grits and jams. Because the vast majority of shelf space in traditional grocery chains is rented to big food producers through slotting fees, these big grocers have yet to figure out how to stock local goods with their natural category competitors. Norm’s Farms would love an opportunity to compete head to head with Smuckers or Dickinsons and it may be that consumer pressure will give us that chance in the future!