A new study says that Louisville businesses, food distributors and residents are going out of their way to eat local food, and would eat more if they could.
The study was commissioned by non-profit Seed Capital Kentucky and conducted by a consultant in New York. It use both quantitative and qualitative methods to survey residents, restaurants, grocery stores and food distributors.
The preliminary results were released back in September, and the final results are similar, but offer more details. The study found that about three-quarters of the businesses surveyed already buy local food—and of those that don’t, most would be willing to if it was available, affordable and high quality. About three-quarters of the residents surveyed also already buy local food. Seed Capital founder Stephen Reily says it’s significant that that sample reaches across all ages and income levels.
“So I think a lot of people have felt like we have to develop this market, develop this interest, and maybe it’s just a niche marketplace among the higher income, better-educated population,” he said. “And that’s not the case.”
The study found that Louisville residents currently spend about $100 million a year on local foods, and—if they were available—would buy another $158 million each year. But for that to happen, there needs to be more local food in grocery stores and restaurants, and it has to be affordable.
Reily says now that Louisville’s demand has been quantified, ideally there will be more investment in several areas. Specifically, he says the local food community will need to start working on developing better distribution infrastructure, as well as convincing farmers to produce more food for sale in the area.