2017 has been an exciting year for foodists! From the popularity of farmers’ markets to an increase in local food entrepreneurship and home grown menu items at restaurants, it couldn’t be a better time for the power of good food to emerge. With this renewed and recent focus on consumers’ relationship with food, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish a trend from a constant. What’s here to stay and how does it affect your everyday eating choices and behaviors? Giles Farms did the research and we’re here to share what we’ve learned about food interests and how it relates to you as a local foodist.
Local and regional foods are more than a passing trend. According to a USDA report, after 20 years of steady and even exponential market growth, consumers are expressing an interest in knowing where their food comes from and in connecting with the producers who put food on our tables. In response, producers such as Giles Farms are taking advantage of the opportunity to reach a new market. You may have noticed local food businesses springing up around town! Buyers are increasing local food purchases, and conversations between farmers and consumers are taking place every day across the country.
Consumers want to understand more about where their food comes from. This same USDA report reflects this desire in the growing number of people seeking out products directly from farmers and ranchers at farmers’ markets, farm stands, CSA programs and other direct sales outlets. This demand is driven by consumers’ desire to engage, discuss and build relationships around many aspects of their lives, including food. To help meet this need for local and regional food markets, new farm jobs managing, producing, processing and marketing food are emerging.
There’s been a wave of demand for healthy, locally grown food. And that wave is building. According to Business Insider, local food sales in the U.S. grew from $5 billion to $12 billion between 2008 and 2014, according to food industry research firm Packaged Facts. The same study predicted local food sales would jump to $20 billion in 2019, outpacing the growth of the country’s total food and beverage sales. Whether it’s CSA programs, menu items featuring local farms or better access to local food at the grocery, this is manifesting in different ways everyday.
Consumers’ desire for hyper local sourcing is being reflected in restaurant menus. Each year, the National Restaurant Association surveys nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to explore food and beverage trends at restaurants. The annual “What’s Hot” list found hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items), chef-driven fast-casual concepts, natural ingredients/clean menus and locally sourced produce, meat and seafood philosophies being reflected in menus. See the full list here.
Among this interest and excitement, the fact remains that growing food is hard work. Many family farms are taking hits with the room for error slim. And in 2017, net farm income across the entire sector is expected to decline for the fourth consecutive year, according to the USDA.
At Giles Farms, we’re confident that consumers willingness to pay more for quality and local good food will result in bringing dollars back to the community so family farms can diversify and survive. We want to act as your resource for education as you explore opportunities and ways to support local food.
How are you finding ways to support local food? What local food changes have you seen around town? We’d love to hear from you!