Local sourcing trend big for Ireland’s shoppers
Published:  24 January, 2017

Two-thirds of Ireland’s consumers believe buying local food is important and one-third claim they are buying such food more now than they did 12 months ago.

That’s according to a study by Irish food group Bord Bía, results of which were revealed at an open day today (24 January) in Enfield, Co Meath, involving more than 200 small producers.

The trade body disclosed that the number of small businesses it works with has grown hugely, from 400 to 700 companies in under four years. It estimates the sector is now worth about €400 million.

Irish shoppers claim to buy local food at least once a week. Two-thirds of those surveyed in the study believed it was healthier, with 100% natural ingredients. Three in four indicated they believed the food to be fresher.

The research suggested awareness of the term ‘local food’ had fallen by 16% since 2010 to 77%, while the awareness of the term ‘artisan food’ has increased by 26% to 50%.

Opening today’s conference, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Andrew Doyle, told delegates: “The agri-food sector is a key driver of sustainable growth, and building solid relationships and having a compelling brand story are key to growing sustainable businesses. Bord Bía will continue to support Irish client companies in this regard, providing advice on market opportunities and emerging trends.

“The most immediate impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has been sterling depreciation and volatility. While demand for premium-quality, safe food products is increasing long term, today’s advice and information can help companies in very practical ways to hold on to business.”

Speaking about Bord Bía’s findings, Mary Morrissey, the body’s food and beverage manager, said: “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 is now considered more readily available.

“The fact that Bord Bía 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. It is clear that the sector continues to offer opportunities for small producers to deliver on demand local and quality foods directly linked back to the producer. Consumers want to connect with the story of the producer.”