The eat local movement, also known as the localvore movement, is not necessarily “new” – even the current branding has been around for a decade. But we’ve seen an explosion in popularity over the last 2-3 years, as well.
The movement, which emphasizes the consumption of locally produced food, is having a significant impact on the food service industry, including convenience stores.
The Localvore Movement for C-Stores
The localvore movement is a social movement that advocates for, you guessed it, local foods. Localvores seek out food produced within a certain geographical radius – when it comes to the consumer, 96% agree that in order for a food product to be considered local, it must be sourced and produced no more than 100 miles from where it is sold. This is a good benchmark, as there is no formal definition or regulation for what can be marketed as local!
The movement is driven by several factors, including environmental sustainability, support for local farmers and food producers, and a desire for fresher, more flavorful food.
Eat Local Movement Impact
The impact of the local food movement on convenience store food service can be seen in a number of key ways:
Increased Demand for Local Products
As consumers become more interested in the localvore movement, they are seeking out more food options that are produced locally. Currently, 75% of American consumers report actively attempting to incorporate more local foods into their diet.
Even beyond locally farmed foods, some products with known regional variations, like pizza, are enjoying an explosion in popularity, with c-stores striving to deliver authentic, local options from one market to the next. With 67% of consumers reporting that they are willing to pay a premium for local food products, this is a trend that presents a tremendous opportunity. Convenience stores that offer locally sourced food products are more likely to attract this wide swath of consumers interested in fresh, flavorful, and sustainable food options.
Expansion of Product Offerings
To meet this growing demand for local products, convenience stores are investing in expanding their product offerings. This includes stocking more locally produced fruits and vegetables, as well as locally sourced meat dairy, and bakery items. As a cottage industry of local packaged food products continues to thrive, we are also seeing an increase in packaged snacks produced locally. By expanding their local product offerings, convenience stores are catering to localvore consumers while also supporting local farmers and food producers, and the local economy overall.
Emphasis on Sustainability
The “eat local” movement is rooted in the idea of environmental sustainability. Convenience stores that offer locally sourced food products are often able to reduce their overall carbon footprint by reducing the amount of transportation needed to bring products to market. Additionally, many c-stores are implementing other sustainable practices, such as reducing food waste and offering eco-friendly packaging, to appeal to consumers who are concerned about environmental sustainability.
High Quality, Eye-Catching Food Options
One of the primary benefits of the localvore movement is the emphasis on high-quality, fresh, flavorful food. C-stores that offer locally sourced food products are able to provide consumers with fresher, more flavorful options. This is particularly important for c-stores that offer prepared foods, such as sandwiches and salads, as localvore consumers are more likely to seek out these high-quality, fresh food options.
Leaning into the Localvore Movement at C-Stores
By leaning into the localvore movement, and being the first to offer a selection of locally sourced food products, convenience stores are able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In an increasingly competitive landscape, this is all-important. Convenience stores that offer unique, locally sourced food products are more likely to attract the 75% of consumers actively seeking local food products – benefiting from the 67% who are willing to pay a premium for these products! Additionally, c-stores that embrace the localvore movement are able to support their local economies and food producers. As this movement continues to grow, we expect to see increased investment from c-store brands in this sector.
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