As lockdowns ease, there are signs consumer demand for local food – which grew during the height of the pandemic – is sticking around, according to GlobalData Consumer.

Against the backdrop of Covid-19, localism has become an important factor shaping the decisions consumers make when buying food products – and represents an opportunity for industry.

According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 Recovery Consumer Survey, held from 8-12 July, 52% of consumers globally claimed locally-sourced ingredients were more important (responses that spanned ‘more important’, ‘significantly more important’ or their ‘top priority’) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The view was shared across generations, as at least 40% of respondents in each age cohort placed the same level of importance on locally-sourced ingredients. This interest presents a chance for packaged-food companies to emphasise locally-sourced ingredients in order to attract shoppers in what remains an uncertain trading environment.

Concerns about sustainability and a desire for more familiar ingredients has put local fare in the spotlight during the global pandemic, as consumers look for authenticity in products and become more interested in the provenance of ingredients.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency, which is looking at attitudes to food during the Covid-19 pandemic, says more than a third of the country’s consumers are buying local food more often. Moreover, a survey in May from the UK’s Stilton Cheese Makers Association claimed to show almost two-thirds of UK consumers were more likely to buy local produce to support the country’s farmers.

This interest looks likely to persist, as a notable proportion of consumers continue to be interested in local products, even as lockdown measures have started to ease. Localisation is therefore a key strategy for packaged-food companies and industry organisations to attract consumers.

Even before the onset of Covid-19, Danone had been vocal in its belief consumer interest in local food was an important characteristic of a “food revolution” reshaping the industry.

And, last month, Danone chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber said the Covid-19 lockdowns had been “an incredible period of demonstrating how relevant that’s going to be for the future”.

Packaged-food brands could look to collaborate more often with local suppliers to more closely align with this emerging – and growing – trend.

Consumer demand for locally-sourced ingredients does not appear to be a short-term trend and companies could – and should – leverage the growing interest in provenance and sustainability to their advantage.