Bord Bia: Majority of consumers believe in “shopping local”

Bord Bia's Mary Morrissey with Louise Ryan and Aisling Murphy from Oh! Naturelle, Cork
Bord Bia's Mary Morrissey with Louise Ryan and Aisling Murphy from Oh! Naturelle, Cork

Bord Bia has hosted its annual Small Business Open Day, at which more than 200 small food and drinks businesses gathered to compare notes and discuss the future of their sectors.

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25 January 2017 | 0

Bord Bia hosted its annual Small Business Open Day this week, at which more than 200 small businesses gathered to hear a series of panel discussions from experts in a range of related fields. Some of the talks included challenges and opportunities facing the food and drink sector in Ireland, how to challenge traditional models a la Airbnb, Uber and more, essential tips for growing a business and more.

Meanwhile, Bord Bia launched its latest study providing insight into consumer attitudes towards small business. The report reveals how the number of small businesses it works with has risen by a massive 42% in the past four years, from 400 to 700. Bord Bia estimates that he small food and drink sector is worth approximately €400m.

Bord Bia’s study explores Irish consumers’ definition of and attitudes towards ‘local food’, along with what motivates them to purchase ‘local food’.

“It is encouraging for small food businesses to hear consumers saying they buy local food products at least once a week,” Mary Morrisey, food and beverage manager for Bord Bia said at the event. “Although the meaning of ‘local’ has evolved since we last studied it in 2010, it continues to be about people, place and small scale, and now is also considered now more readily available.

“The fact that Bord Bia has nearly doubled its number of clients is affirmation of the resilience of the small business sector in tackling challenges and in converting ideas and concepts to commercial business,” Morrisey added. “It is clear that the sector continues to offer opportunities for small producers to deliver on demand for local and quality foods directly linked back to the producer. Consumers want to connect with the story of the producer.”

Some of the key findings from the Bord Bia report:
•       Irish people claim to buy local food at least once a week
•       1 in 3 consumers say they are purchasing more today than they did 12 months ago
•       Two thirds of Irish consumers believe it is important purchase local food
•       Two thirds of consumers perceive local food to be of high quality with natural and 100% ingredients, rendering it better quality than mass produced food.
•       The research highlighted that there are a number of different meanings and associations with local food. Some 3 in 4 consumers understand it to be food made, produced and sourced within their local area, compared to a similar study in 2010 where there was more focus on the producer behind the product
•       Nearly 4 in 5 of people believe that they are supporting the community when purchasing local foods
•       3 in 4 believe that this food is fresher having been produced locally
•       The awareness of the term ‘local food’ has fallen by 16% since 2010 to 77% while the awareness of the term ‘artisan food’ has increased by 26% to 50%.
•       Only half of consumers associate local food with being expensive
•       Further associations with scale mean that local food is often thought of on a smaller scale with homemade associations and not mass produced
•       In terms of product benefits, local food is understood to be better for you thanks to the perceived quality of the ingredients, freshness and health cues.
•       Local food has become more widely available and there is a growing association with gifting and special occasions.

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