Six in 10 food basket items 'bought local' says UU research

Pictured at the launch of Tesco Taste Festival are (from left) Gordan Gafa, Tesco category director; John Hood, Invest NI; Tess O’Neill, commercial manager for Tesco NI and Brendan Guidera, Tesco NI stores director

NEARLY six in every 10 food and drink items in Northern Ireland shoppers' baskets are locally-produced and purchased through sense of loyalty and pride, new research has revealed

An independent study by Ulster University Business School, commissioned by Tesco Northern Ireland as part of its 10th Taste Festival, has found that on average, in a main grocery shop, local products now account for 58.2 per cent of items in a shopping basket.

The research, which examined consumer perceptions of Northern Ireland food and drink, revealed that 71.8 per cent of respondents felt it was fairly or very important to them that they supported their local food and drink industry, with brands typically purchased including Tayto, Dale Farm, Sunblest, Ormo and White's Oats.

Loyalty for local family businesses was a major driver for purchasing local (91.1 per cent), followed by ‘a sense of pride for the country' – a sentiment shared by 70.3 per cent of respondents.

Dr Lynsey Hollywood from Ulster University Business School said: “The findings were clear in demonstrating that Northern Ireland consumers want to buy locally grown and produced food and drink products.

"But interestingly, in addition to the anticipated consumer motivators such as taste and quality, the resounding consensus among respondents was that they were doing their bit for the local economy, right down to the micro level of supporting family businesses. Buying locally-produced food and drink generates a feeling of patriotism and community, not always easily achieved here.”

When asked why they purchased local products, ‘supporting the local economy' (93.9 per cent), ‘supporting a family business' (91.1 per cent) and knowing ‘where your food is from' (89.9 per cent) were among the top three reasons.

Better quality (71.3 per cent), a feeling of trust (74.6 per cent), better taste (62.7 per cent) and a ‘sense of pride about my country' (70.3 per cent) were also key motives for buying locally produced Northern Ireland food and drink products.

Tess O'Neill, commercial manager at Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “Like us, our customers believe in the importance of quality, local produce and they want to support local farmers, growers and producers, because in return, they enjoy some of the best tasting, quality food and drink available.

“Local food and drink has been a major focus for Tesco since it first arrived in Northern Ireland more than 20 years ago.

"We work with 90 local suppliers and 6,000 Northern Ireland farmers, who together produce 1,500 home-grown quality product lines stocked in Tesco stores here.”

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