‘Locally Produced’ Defined Differently by Major Grocery Chains

Read the full post at Triple Pundit.

The local food movement has come a long way from what started out as a fringe fraction of the population to grabbing the attention of big box grocery retailers and industrial food giants. The original goals of proponents of the “locavore diet” focused on supporting smaller local farms (and thus the local economy), protecting the environment by decreasing food-miles traveled and using less synthetic chemicals.

Big food companies and major grocery store chains alike have caught on, realizing they can make big bucks making customers feel good about their impact on the planet, their economy and themselves. Thus, they are shifting produce purchasing decisions toward local. Most chains cite consumer demand, reduction of spoilage, and savings made on fuel and freight costs as their main incentives.

Whether their intentions are to do good, make profits, or both, the issue at hand is that each company has come up with different definitions of just what the term local means. As the Wall Street Journal’s Miguel Bustillo and David Kesmodel so aptly point out in a recent article, “The lack of a federal standard or any consensus on what qualifies as ‘local’ food leaves grocers a lot of leeway in their marketing. At most large retailers, fruits and vegetables harvested hundreds of miles away can be touted as locally grown. Such loose definitions have sparked criticism from small farmers and organic-food advocates that the chains are merely adjusting their marketing to capitalize on the latest food trend, rather than making real changes in their procurement practices.”

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