Fortune reports that the local food movement is booming, generating $11.7 billion in sales last year, expected to climb to $20.2 billion in 2019, with almost half of consumers saying that they’d pay 10% more for such products, and almost a third saying they’d up it as much as 25% more.
However, the story also says that it is a category replete with potential problems because of differences in how it is defined by various parties.
“The 2008 Farm Act, an agricultural policy law, defines a ‘locally or regionally produced agricultural food product’ as one that is marketed less than 400 miles from its origin… A few states such as Vermont and Connecticut have established rules that define local as within the borders of the state or within a certain small perimeter of the state… Walmart defines local as grown and sold in the same state, whether the state is teeny Rhode Island or ginormous Texas. For Safeway, it’s an eight-hour drive. Even Whole Foods states on their locally grown page that ‘mostly we like to leave it up to our stores’ but generally use state lines or regions within large states.”
Which means, Fortune writes, that “questions are being raised about what exactly ‘local’ means. Just as controversy has dogged the labels, ‘all-natural’ and ‘organic,’ there are real concerns that consumers may not be getting what they think when they ‘buy local’ at the local supermarket. The label ‘local’ is too often part marketing hype, some say.”