One of the most powerful movements in food supply is the "buy local" trend. By supporting regional suppliers, consumers can get a better grasp of where their food comes from while promoting local economies. This farm-to-table style of food consumption has caught on in restaurants and grocery stores alike, with companies displaying their locally sourced credentials as a point of pride.
Experts say this movement is also a bonus for supply chain agility. With a less circuitous journey from raw material to supermarket inventory, supply can be replenished more quickly. Furthermore, vendors are able to drive buying habits by showcasing ingredients that are in season locally.
"More and more, the picture of local foods also includes signs in supermarkets identifying certain products as local, and stories from farmers about how their food was produced," explain Robert P. King, Michael S. Hand and Miguel I. Gómez of UTNE Reader. "These images are a growing part of how people think about their food when they fill their grocery cart (or canvas bag or farm share box)."
With the rise of preservatives and other methods of keeping food fresh out of season, many consumers have a warped concept of natural supply cycles. Less manipulation allows consumers to enjoy the health and safety benefits of food that hasn't been heavily processed, while shortening the complicated food supply chain.
By enhancing relationships with local food producers, distribution companies can provide the best quality products to their partners. Local food supply chains also demand less energy to drive, so decreased carbon emissions are also a benefit. As consumers are moved by the compelling marketing around local foods, it's important for companies along the supply chain to keep up.