A new survey from digital procurement platform Forager found that the top two New Year’s resolutions of respondents are losing weight and eating healthy.
Forager, a Portland, Maine-based company whose digital procurement platform connects local farmers with grocers and food co-ops to bring consumers locally grown food, asked consumers why they want to go local and what barriers they are facing. Respondents identified “local, fresh” as their top criteria (27 percent) for “healthy” food, closely followed by “vegetarian/vegan” (24 percent) and “organic” (22 percent); common attributes of local produce. Forty-seven percent of respondents noted “tastes better” as a driver to buy local food.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said that “supporting the local economy” was a purchasing motivator. The sticking point is availability, with 100 percent of respondents citing either “limited options” and/or “unavailable at stores” as the biggest challenges to buying local food. The opportunity for conventional and independent grocers is clear with 93 percent of respondents stating that they would buy more local food if their primary grocery stores offered it.
“Over one-third of respondents stated that the best place for them to find local food is farmers’ markets or farm shares, rather than independent or large regional grocery stores,” noted David D. Stone, founder of Forager. “This means that grocers are missing a critical opportunity to offer the consumers what they want most—access to fresh, local food year-round.”
Nationwide, the local food segment is expected to reach $20 billion this year and is growing much faster than the overall food and beverage market. The disconnect between supply and demand comes down to challenges facing both grocers/buyers and farmers/producers. For grocers, the traditional process of finding and doing business with multiple local farmers has historically been expensive, inefficient, manual and error-prone. Farmers also struggle with inefficient processes like sharing their products and updating their availability.
Forager’s digital procurement platform removes these barriers to sourcing fresh, healthy foods. In just two years, nearly 50,000 local products have been purchased through Forager.
The mission of Forager is to accelerate the growth of the local food economy and make locally sourced food more widely available. The company’s online and mobile platform digitizes and streamlines the procurement-to-payment process saving time and costs for grocers, co-ops, farmers, producers and other buyers and sellers of local food.