International vs Local Produce: 4 Insights on Consumer Demand

When it comes to buying produce, consumers today have a plethora of choices. In addition to the growing trend of organic and sustainable options, consumers may buy either international or local produce. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know what consumers really want, as well as what’s best for you as a business to maximize profits.

You may be wondering, do consumers prefer local fruits and vegetables, or are they willing to buy international products if it means saving more? This article will cover what you need to know, as well as how Silo can help you dominate the market.

Is international or local produce better?

Statistics show that a huge percentage of produce is imported into the United States every year, so avoiding buying internationally these days can be virtually impossible. 

Regardless, consumer preferences can vary. Some consumers state that they prefer local fruits and vegetables due to the fact that they’re often fresher and tastier. Others buy international products frequently for the variety and to acquire exotic produce that would otherwise be unavailable locally.

Here are the benefits of international vs. local fruits and vegetables.

The benefits of international produce

Local climates can only support so many types of produce. Having seasonal products available all year round becomes possible through imports. It also gives consumers access to more exotic fruits and vegetables. This is incredibly important, as consumers these days demand greater variety.

Produce that’s sourced internationally is also often less expensive compared to local options, though with how far it travels to get to supermarket shelves, there can be a noticeable decline in quality.

The benefits of local produce

A large part of the attraction with buying locally is supporting the local economy. For consumers, it also means knowing where your food comes from and getting fresher food. While buying locally is usually more expensive than mass-produced options, some consumers feel that the quality is worth the price.

On average, produce travels over 1,300 miles before it reaches the consumer, which can be a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Local means shortening the supply chain and a lower carbon footprint in getting food from farm to table, which consumers feel ensures environmental sustainability.

What do consumers look for when choosing local vs. international produce?

When choosing between local and international fruits and vegetables, many consumers consider three main factors: price, quality, and availability. 

Those who prioritize price may opt for international options, while those who prioritize quality may choose local produce. Availability is also a key consideration, as some consumers (depending on where they live and what their socioeconomic status is) may only have access to certain types of produce.

Trends in consumer demand for local vs. international can vary. In general, however, there’s a growing trend of consumers interested in buying locally sourced food. This is due to an increasing awareness of the impact of food production on the environment and a desire to support local businesses.

4 insights on consumer demand

Here are some more in-depth insights on consumer demand for local and international produce.

1. Consumers see local produce as pricey, but worth the quality

Consumers that are willing to pay more for locally grown produce believe that it means they’re receiving higher quality compared to imported counterparts. 

And oftentimes, it’s true. Local producers usually use higher quality or organic materials, and as a result of this greater input cost, there’s a higher price tag for production. The work also isn’t outsourced, so the cost of labor is usually more.

Produce is harvested and shipped as soon as it’s ripe, so consumers will have access to these local vegetables and fruits at peak freshness—no extensive packing or freezing required.

2. International produce is often more affordable

Although buying local for quality is highly preferred for some consumers, for others, it’s still considered a luxury. One of the main reasons consumers choose to buy imported produce is because it’s more affordable. 

This is due to the fact that international growers benefit from economies of scale. Therefore, countries that export fruits and vegetables usually mass-produce these products, and can do so more quickly and efficiently. Wealthier countries are able to import these products at a lower cost, without the markups that usually come with other commodities.

3. Organic produce is in high demand, but can be mistaken as locally-produced

Organic produce has become a growing trend in recent years that has seen higher demand. In fact, studies find that a large percentage of consumers are willing to pay more for organic produce. This is because organic produce is seen as healthier and better for the environment.

However, it’s a common misconception among consumers that all organic produce is grown locally. Although legally, a product that’s labeled as organic must be USDA-approved, it doesn’t guarantee that it was locally produced.

4. There’s a growing trend of online grocery shopping

With the advent of online grocery shopping, consumers now have the option to purchase both international and local produce from the comfort of their own homes. This convenience is one of the main reasons why the online grocery market is expected to grow significantly over the next five years. If you’re not making use of e-commerce, now would be the time to consider it.

Act on market opportunities with Silo

These are just a few insights on consumer demand for local and international produce. As the produce industry continues to grow, demand is expected to change and develop over time.

Silo gives you the confidence to execute on market opportunities. Benefit from market insights that allow you to make smarter buying decisions and ensure more profitable outcomes. Historical data across wholesale produce supply ensures you’re pursuing the right opportunities.

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