Which Products Do Consumers Want to Buy Local?

NEW YORK — Tags boasting "locally made," images of farmers in their orchards from "upstate," and QR codes inviting consumers to learn more about the farm where their chosen steak is from are just a few ways manufacturers and retailers are appealing to budding consumer interests.

According to a recent Nielsen study, buying local had the highest awareness among U.S. consumers, topping the charts at 46 percent.

Retailers, manufacturers and consumers across the board have different interpretations of the term "local." Notably, consumers state that some products are local if they come from the same city, but in other cases, they state that products can be local within the same state.

There are even products that Americans view as local just as long as they come from within the U.S. In a recent survey of more than 20,000 consumers, the highest agreement for a local definition was for shelf-stable goods, with 34 percent of respondents saying products in this category can be local as long as they come from within the U.S., Nielsen found.

Local can also be defined in mileage. Survey results highlight that less than 50 miles had the highest consensus among the respondents across all products, but the level of agreement varied from the highest (50-plus percent) for bakery and foodservice to the lows (20 percent) for frozen and shelf-stable foods.

The top categories consumers prioritize local origins as important are:

  • Produce (58 percent)
  • Bakery (54 percent)
  • Eggs (51 percent)
  • Foodservice (51 percent)
  • Dairy (48 percent)
  • Meat (41 percent)
  • Seafood (39 percent)
  • Deli meat (33 percent)
  • Deli cheese (33 percent)
  • Frozen food (20 percent)
  • Shelf-stable items (19 percent)

According to Nielsen, low-income consumers are more likely to say that buying local is extremely important to them across all products vs. the general population. Young families say buying local is extremely important to them for their deli, bakery, produce, and shelf-stable and frozen goods, while millennials say local matters most in the frozen department.

New York-based Nielsen is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide.