Supporting their local economy is the number one reason for buying local products, according to new research by the Countryside Agency. Freshness and lower prices are the next biggest influences. A staggering 75% are prepared to pay a bit more for products which help to conserve the countryside. The Countryside Agency has launched a campaign called Eat the View to drive the market for local products and demonstrate to consumers how their buying power can benefit the countryside.

“The public care passionately about the future of the countryside,” said Ewen Cameron, chairman of the Countryside Agency. “Government can do much to support farming and forestry but consumers have a vital role to play too.”

Keeping costs down and making these products more available would encourage more consumers to get the local products habit. More than 50% of those interviewed claims to purchase local products every week, most from a farm shop or stand or through their local health food or whole food shop. However, they’d like to see supermarkets forced to stock at least a percentage of locally produced products. 70% of those surveyed wanted the government to legislate in favour of local products.

Buying direct from the source is the way most consumers identify that the products are local while information on the packaging, information provided by the retailer and local branding help too.

While UK consumers have taken to farmers markets and organic produce with enthusiasm, the vast majority of the products we buy come from central distribution systems where the origin of the product – and its means of production – is unknown. Even staple foods like milk are often imported from Europe and most clothing is manufactured in the far East. Purchasing local products is still a niche activity. The Countryside Agency has been challenged by the Prime Minister to help consumers make the connection between the products they buy and the countryside they value – and to work with others to develop projects that achieve this aim. The campaign launched today sets out to do that.