Consumer Trends

The evolution of local

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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)

150% desserts

137% entrees

82% appetizers

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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

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So people are seeking out "local" more often

57% of consumers say they seek out restaurants offering locally sourced products.

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Why do they want local?

57% better tasting

48% higher quality

39% safer

32% healthier

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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

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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


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