Local Food Statistics

A couple of days ago the Chicago Tribune had posted a piece about the “Local Food movement”. For those familiar with these kinds of stories, there’s little to add to this story that hasn’t already been covered elsewhere – What does local mean? What’s a locavore? Etcetera, etcera.

But there was one part that jumped out at me:

Sales of locally grown foods jumped to $5 billion in this past year from $4 billion in 2002, according to Package Facts, the market research publisher. The number of farmers markets has grown dramatically too. Federal officials counted 4,385 markets in 2006; that’s up from 1,755 in 1994.

One billion dollar increase of sales over 5 years is a figure that is bound to capture someone’s attention, because an increase here means a decrease somewhere else – most likely in the produce section of the local Safeway or Krogers, although that’s admittedly a guess on my part.

The same can be said for the increase in farmers markets, albeit a little more indirectly. If a person is buying their fruits, veggies, meats, and jellies at the farmers markets (which an increase of roughly 150% of “outlets” over the past 13 years would insinuate), then those sales came at the expense of some other outlet.

I’ve written about this before, but it is worth repeating – There’s a fair amount of distrust when it comes to corporate food and markets, enough so that it has introduced not one, but two different food movements (“Organic” and “Eat Local”). Until they address the root causes of this distrust, they’re going to continue to lose market share (pun intended) to places that have earned the trust of the consumers.

And no, putting soft lighting into stores or subverting organic standards will not work in the long run.