U.S. “locavores” not a threat to off-season produce suppliers, panel says
The rise of U.S. consumers who prefer local fruit and vegetables, also known as “locavores,” will not likely alter demand for out-of-season or hard-to-find products supplied by Southern Hemisphere countries, panelists said at the PMA’s Fresh Summit 2010.
According to Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral operations for Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets, the trend toward local does not mean that consumers will only eat local, and demand for a constant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables is not likely to wane as a result of the “eat local” trend.
Furthermore Corsi said that it would be preferable for retailers to focus the sourcing of their produce sections on local suppliers, but the range of products and quality isn’t necessarily sufficient to satisfy a consumer already accustomed to having a full range of high-quality products available.
Rich Dachman, Sysco’s vice president of produce, agreed, adding that the trend toward eating local has always existed. But now, the local offer is complimented by food sourced outside the retailers area. The focus on eating local is more of an emotional bond for the consumer, but won’t likely change overall supply trends, Dachman added.
The panelists spoke during the seminar “Keeping it Local: The Pros and Cons of Local Sourcing,” held last weekend during the PMA’s Fresh Summit conference.
According to a PMA presentation by chief science officer Robert J. Whitaker, the “eat local” trend first surfaced at the PMA’s summit in 2006 has grown since then.
The panel also covered issues such as food safety, retailer-grower relations and reasons behind eating local.