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Local food: understanding consumer motivations in innovative retail formats

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Purpose ‐ This paper sets out to profile the activities and consumers of a unique and successful local food retail outlet in the UK that is based on weekly community markets. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The seminal literature on local food in the UK is reviewed prior to providing a case study on a local food outlet, the True Food Co-op. This is followed by the results from a detailed survey of its customers. Findings ‐ The increase in availability of and interest in local food over the last decade has been matched by new research findings. Although there is a consensus on the reasons why people buy local food, there are significant gaps in other areas of one's understanding, such as the lack of a clear definition of what local food is. This is frustrating further developments in the sector. Research limitations/implications ‐ Business development strategies that rely on niche markets, such as local food, in fast-moving consumer goods categories are enjoying rapid growth. However, there are many difficulties with research in this area that emerge from the multitude of purchases made by numerous people, of various products, and in different places. Practical implications ‐ Innovative community-based food retail outlets, such as the True Food Co-op, provide an example of a business model that links consumers and producers in local food networks. As such they contribute to food security by filling a vital role in a diversified, resilient and environmentally friendly food system. Originality/value ‐ The paper publicises recent research findings in the local food sector that have practical implications for policy. In addition, these findings are important for individual businesses in the local food sector which are aiming to develop and secure their position in the marketplace.
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Keywords: Case studies; Consumers; Local food; Research; United Kingdom

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 05 July 2011

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