Supporting local economies and benefiting environmental sustainability drive consumer preference for local food. Additionally, consumers perceive food produced in the same state or within a 100-mile radius as healthier and higher quality.

Seventy percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for locally sourced food, says A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.

Almost 30% of consumers say they would consider switching stores if local food options aren’t available. While most shoppers opt for the one-stop convenience of a big-box retailer, they tend to question the authenticity and origins of its local food selection. Consumers ranked farmers markets and farms as the most trustworthy source of local food, followed by natural food markets, locally owned supermarkets, national grocery chains, big-box retailers and on-line grocers.

“Clearly, local food cannot be ignored as a growing segment for the grocery industry, and we've learned that larger-format food retailers still have much work to do to earn the trust of consumers in providing quality local food products,” says James Rushing, a partner at A.T. Kearney. “But the additional work and costs are worth the effort in the customer loyalty gained.”

Shoppers indicated they would spend more on local groceries if retailers provided better education about the food’s origin and displayed local products more prominently.

A.T. Kearney conducted the study in November 2012. The study included an on-line survey of 1,300 US respondents, with a 50-50 split between males and females.