Top trend: Aussies like it local

Posted by Josette Dunn on 17th January 2011

Australians have always been supportive of their local communities, but Datamonitor research has found that this desire has intensified over the past 12 months. Local products are shaping up to be a key source of growth for food and drink companies in 2011.

Lamington

It is well known that Australian consumers want to buy Australian. Most recently a survey (conducted by Roy Morgan Research) of almost 19,000 people found that 90% prefer to buy products Made in Australia.  Now it seems that we do not just want our food and drinks to be Australian, but they should be produced as close to our local area as possible.

The ‘locavore’ movement describes the growing interest in locally produced products, and while the trend started in the US, it has gained popularity in Australians also.

Datamonitor research conducted in July/August 2010 found that 33% of Australians are buying locally produced food either ‘most of the time’ or ‘all the time’, up from 26% in April/May 2009.

Katrina Diamonon, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor remarked: “locally made food and drinks resonate strongly with Australians, not only as they support local communities, but because they are often perceived to be fresher and superior in quality.”

However, the ambiguity of the term ‘local’ has manifested in many companies laying claim to the word without adequate substantiation, in a trend some marketing commentators have coined ‘local washing’. Diamonon continued: “industry players need to be wary of using a diluted version of the term ‘local’ merely to promote sustainable credentials. Local claims need to be accompanied by an authentic brand story that brings the value of local to life.”

Another challenge for the local food market is competition from imports, a threat that has intensified as a result of the devastating floods across Queensland. Hectares of food crops have been destroyed by the torrential rain, which has dramatically reduced yield and driven up food prices across the country. “During this difficult time, value conscious Australians are faced with a decision to either support local farmers or turn to lower-priced imports,” Diamonon continued.

The local movement will continue to gather momentum in the coming year, but manufacturers need to fully understand the value that consumers derive from ‘local’ in order to capitalize on this opportunity. “Consumers are keen to support fellow Australians, but need to be reassured that buying local does not compromise their pursuit for value or quality. Emphasizing tangible benefits such as price and convenience – in addition to local claims – will appeal to well-intentioned consumers,” concluded Diamonon.