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Local & Low Food Miles

Local & Low Food Miles

What is it and why does it matter?

Focusing on sourcing food or food ingredients from as close to point of purchase / consumption as possible. The tangible element is specifically around the number of miles the food / ingredient has to travel over the course of the supply chain. The intangible or emotional element is more around supporting and feeling the security of something grown nearby.

A nuanced topic: consumers are focusing on the simplicity of lower miles travelled equating to lower environmental impact, however that may not always be the case. Agenda setters are more focused on this as a means to an end and understand there can be trade-offs between carbon goals and others. There is also a strong emotional / cultural focus especially in markets with a strong local food culture, e.g., France, Italy. 


Of German consumers say “local / low food miles” influence their grocery choices, higher than in any other market and more than any other sustainability topic ​


Visible ‘Branding’ of Local Foods

In supermarkets we have all seen retailers responding to localism by communicating their local sourcing.

Insights from 

Agenda Setters

This is not a key topic for thought leaders but sustainability leads view it as an issue which consumers are highly focused on – either for environmental, trust or local support rationale. However, the sustainability leads understand that the reality can be more nuanced, meaning appealing to local is less impactful the higher up the chain you go when speaking to your customers. 

The key themes are:

  • Avoidance of environmental impact (e.g., transport) but this is often at odds with other goals e.g., supporting farmers / growers in emerging markets
  • Contributing to the local economy 
  • (In EU) trust & understanding around local or local (nearby) country produce vs. elsewhere
  • For importing countries (UAE, China) freshness is a key driver, but local is not really a concern


Buyers rank ‘local’ themed areas as mid-tier when selecting suppliers. The local push can often be a challenge for food and drink exporters, but this data suggests communicating well on more critical topics that buyers feel are more important, e.g. animal welfare, consistency of supply, packaging, is more impactful.


Consumers see the topic as an important influence on their shopping, with 84% of them saying they have made some effort to buy more local in the last 12 months which is significant.  However, this drive is not often motivated by sustainability, but rather is connected to other emotive economic, social and national priorities too, spotlighted as a result of Covid

This is not a focus for consumers everywhere with a greater emphasis in Western European markets. In fact in Germany, it is the most influential choice driver for food and drink in general and it is also notably higher in Italy and Poland than other markets.  In Asian markets this is a much less important influence as they are heavily reliant on imports, but highlighting freshness will resonate. Globally, it is older consumers who are more likely to be driven to purchase by local claims.

28%​ of buyers believe

it's important that suppliers are from or close to their local region
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications