Local sourcing may be old hat to chefs, but recent data shows consumers now are noticing it more often. One in three are spotting more local items on menus, researcher Technomic finds, and the ratio is higher at QSRs. The significance: Local foods typically have been associated with chef-driven independents, says Jackie Rodriguez, senior manager at Technomic. “Most consumers consider [local] a fairly small geographic radius,” she says. “[Yet] Chipotle defines it as sourced within 350 miles,” and diners still see that as local, she adds. “This is good news for operators—they have some leeway in how they define local themselves, perhaps taking into account their supply chain or their geography.”
"Local" mentions across mealparts have risen:
367% nonalcoholic beverages (such as local sodas)
Because this many operators (by segment) say customers' interest is up from two years ago:
87% fine dining
84% casual dining
66% fast casual
53% quick service
So people are seeking out "local" more often
57% of consumers say they seek out restaurants offering locally sourced products.
Why do they want local?
57% better tasting
48% higher quality
But there's still no standard definition. So what meets consumers' criteria for local at restaurants?
78% local ingredients in a variety of items
76% new item showcasing a local ingredient
69% special "local" menu
42% single ingredient in existing menu item
Yet the closer the source, the more diners are willing to pay. People are willing to pay up to 5 percent more for food:
37% from my city
34% from within 100 miles
29% from my state
25% from my region