In a first-of-its kind quantitative analysis of the demand for local food in a metropolitan area, a large unmet demand for local food was identified in Louisville. The study was sponsored by Seed Capital KY, and conducted in collaboration with New York City-based food and agriculture consulting firm Karp Resources, and the Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth and Innovation, and published in January 2013.
The report yielded several key findings:
- 72% of Louisville/Jefferson County consumers are already buying some amount of local food. Louisville residents currently spend $100 million on local foods, and are interested in purchasing an additional $158 million each year, for a total demand of $258 million.
- Local consumers are willing to devote more of their monthly food budgets to local food, on average, twice as much as they currently spend.
- More than 95% of residents perceive local food to be more flavorful and generally equal or superior quality compared to food from elsewhere.
- Commercial buyers currently spend $214 million on local foods, and would be willing to spend an additional $139 million, for a total of $353 million. Much of the food the commercial sectors purchase will be handled, transformed and resold in a variety of outlets, leveraging that $353 million in local food purchases to contribute an estimated $800 million to the local economy.
- Over 73% of commercial buyers said they buy local food in order to support local business and the local economy.
- 87% of commercial buyers who don’t currently buy local foods said they would if barriers were eliminated (product price and lack of distribution services were identified as primary barriers, among others).
The findings will be used to support efforts by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and others to improve networks among urban consumers and rural producers as a long-term, regional, and integrated economic development strategy.