“Local” is one of the many buzzwords consumers face when grocery shopping. While consumer translations of these words vary, a study pinned down the most common definition.
Two University of Kentucky agricultural economists found consumers have a preferred distance limit on the distance a product can travel to be considered “local.” The survey included 1,013 Canadian beef consumers between the ages of 19 and 74.
Findings from the report show consumers were less strict than the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in defining local beef. While the CFIA requires local beef to originate from a farm less than 30 miles away, Canadian consumers were just as likely to select beef labeled “local,” meeting CFIA requirements, as they were selecting beef with a “100 miles” label.
The CFIA local beef was preferred over the beef with a “200 miles” label.
In addition to the “local” label preferences, consumers were more likely to select a product produced in the local province compared to a product with a “local” label.
According to the study, the preference for a product made in the province “perhaps is due to the more coordinated efforts by provincial government in food marketing. Or alternatively, this could be that consumers value local and home-province product with different motivation, or that Canadians identify strongly with province.”
Regardless of the distance, local labels were preferred to products with labels identifying the beef as a product made in Canada or the USA. The survey showed 69 percent of the Canadian consumers would select local over one labeled as a product of Canada and 84 percent would select a local product over one marked "Made in the USA."