Environment
4:32 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Study Says Demand for Local Food Outpaces Supply in Louisville

A new survey suggests demand for local food in Louisville exceeds the current supply.

The preliminary results of a study commissioned by local nonprofit and food advocate Seed Capital Kentucky show that Jefferson County residents are already knowingly buying local food—and would buy even more if given the chance.

The study was conducted by New York-based consultant Karen Karp and her company, Karp Resources. She sampled 1.4 percent of the households in the county across all demographics. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they already bought local food, and nearly all (99 percent) did most of their food shopping in supermarkets. If local food was consistently available, affordable and of high-quality, the respondents indicated they would direct 200 percent more of their spending toward it.

But there’s still a lot to be done to get food from farms to consumers. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says he plans to utilize several public-private partnerships.

“It takes all kinds of partners here. It starts with the demands, obviously, being identified. Then the farmers, then the processors, then the logistics in between,” he said. “The good news is that we’re leading the country in a lot of this area already and you can see we have the talent to make it happen. This report here today just provides the excitement for everybody to keep going.”

Department of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says the results are encouraging.

“We’re going to do everything we can at the Department of Agriculture to work with Metro Government, to work with the local restaurants and wholesalers and retailers to make sure there are enough farmers to supply this increased demand of food,” he said.

Comer says there are enough farmers in Kentucky to meet the growing demand, but agrees with Fischer that logistics still pose a challenge

Comer is on the state’s Agriculture Development Board, which is responsible for distributing half of the state’s tobacco settlement money. He says he wants to see some of that money go to transform Kentucky from a tobacco-growing state into a state that focuses on producing fruits, vegetables and meat.

But despite the increased interest in local food, more than 17 percent of Jefferson County residents are still classified as “food insecure,” which means they don’t have access to plentiful and nutritious food.