Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their food comes from. They are looking beyond the standard supermarket produce to the more local, ethically sourced or organic options. And even though these might come with a bigger price tag, customers are willing to pay – in large part down to the fact that they want to know how their food is being farmed and transported.
Why does it matter where produce comes from?
As we well know with wine, coffee and chocolate, where produce is grown influences its flavour and can give it unique characteristics. Increasingly consumers are looking for real food with real flavour, and are seeking out regional delicacies like cheese from King Island and truffles from Tasmania.
How their food is farmed or produced also has an increasing effect on their dining choices. It’s not only about a healthy breakfast, consumers also want to know that animals have been treated well, that farming methods are safe and chemicals controlled.
Sometimes they go for 'local' over foods from further a field, to get fresher food, support Australian farmers and because they are aware of the costs and energy that go into long-distance transportation. They might choose to eat meat grown in their region, drink milk produced in their state or even buy an Australian orange before resorting to one flown in from California.
Why is it popular?
You just have to turn on a TV to realise that food is big. And with this intense interest comes a focus on how it's prepared and the quality of the produce. People want to understand the history of their food, where it comes from and how it's produced, as well as how it got from 'paddock to plate'. It’s no longer about convenient and quick breakfast ideas.
What is ‘food provenance’ and what is 'local'?
Food provenance is when you know exactly where your food has come from. In a time when consumers are increasingly buying goods from virtual stores around the world, they are also becoming more aware and more particular about where their food is sourced – and they are choosing local.
Local food means fresher food that hasn't been refrigerated for long periods or packed in bulk and transported long distances. Alongside environmental concern, there's a growing local food movement of 'locavores' who try to source produce grown within a 100-mile radius.
Also, in Australia we are fortunate to have the safeguard of strong regulations around food production, which makes it clean and safe and is why our produce is an attractive export.
Quick breakfast ideas and how to pick your produce?
It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re aware of what you’re selling to your customer. Whether it’s meat, vegetables or dairy goods, it’s vital to do your research and find out exactly what’s in your produce and where it’s come from.
If your selling point is local produce, a trip to the farm can be invaluable. Working with a renowned brand as a partner or seeing for yourself what the farming practices are, helps you ensure the process upholds the values of your business. Also, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what goes into creating your product and will be able to relay that information to customers when they ask.
Can you talk the talk?
It’s worth asking yourself if you’d be able to have a comfortable conversation with a customer about how you source your produce and how it's transported. If you’re not totally happy with any stage or process, then maybe think about making a change. As the market for responsibly sourced produce continues to grow, more alternatives are becoming available. So, there’s no better time to start re-evaluating your suppliers.
As a business owner, you're in the perfect position to promote the provenance of produce and even the brands you are working with. Through marketing, menus and talking about it with customers, you can appeal to the growing number of people interested in knowledge, control, good-quality and locally grown food. It may well give you an edge over your competitors.