Navigating the New Food Movement: What does (and should) 'local' mean to the grocer? Some insights from the social scientists
"Nebraskans spend $4.4 billion on food each year. Yet only 10 percent stays in our state," laments Nebraska's agrarian populists at the Center for Rural Affairs. "Shouldn't we expect most of the food we purchase to come from our state?"
Consternation over the excessive "food miles" your products travel in order to get from the farm field to your store have led those like the Center's authors to argue to consumers and regulators that food systems can only be sustainable and socially just if they originate within a set number of miles. But one vexing problem remains: How exactly to define the vague and soft term "local."
"'Local food' or 'regional food,'" the Center's authors have written, "have no precise definitions, nor is it legally defined in the way that legislation has defined 'organic.' Some consider 'local' to describe food from a 50-mile or 100-mile distance from where it is sold. Others say a one-hour drive from the market or other place where sold. Thus, it is important to define what is meant by 'local' when using the term in food marketing or sales."
With so much confusion over a basic definition, what's a local-centric grocer to do?
Ignore it. Here's why.
Several interesting articles from one scholarly journal have recently attempted to get their hands around the meaning from both an academic's and a consumer's point of view. Some valuable lessons can be taken for the grocer interested in appealing to that class of shoppers:
What does that all mean to grocers looking for opportunity in the local food department?
In this broader sense, "local" is a double-edged sword for locally owned, community grocers. You can't fake the authenticity consumers are longing for when they buy local. So the fact that 90 percent of locally sourced food is originating with farms grossing more than a quarter million dollars annually puts grocers riding that train at risk of appearing to be inauthentic. On the other hand, if consumers are looking for a means to stay rooted in time and place via a sense of community, few retailers are in better position to lead that than the community focused grocer.
As this essay explains, if true, then the "food" portion of the "local food" movement may be a case of the marketing tail wagging the dog. Grocers who see locally sourced food as only a small part of fulfilling their commitment to the community, through community relations, employee relations and true contributions, will put themselves in the lead in capturing the loyalty of those local-focused consumers, regardless of how many miles the food they offer travels to get to them.View/Add Comments
Rodrigo González Fernández
Diplomado en "Responsabilidad Social Empresarial" de la ONU
Diplomado en "Gestión del Conocimiento" de la ONU
- PUEDES LEERNOS EN FACEBOOK
Soliciten nuestros cursos de capacitación y consultoría en GERENCIA ADMINISTRACION PUBLICA -LIDERAZGO - GESTION DEL CONOCIMIENTO - RESPONSABILIDAD SOCIAL EMPRESARIAL – LOBBY – COACHING EMPRESARIAL-ENERGIAS RENOVABLES , asesorías a nivel nacional e internacional y están disponibles para OTEC Y OTIC en Chile