Whether it’s fruits, vegetables or meats, more consumers want to buy locally produced food if they can find it. You might call it the Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food) effect.  Or the locavore (eat local) craze might be building as a result of the continuous reports of food-borne illnesses. Either way, marketing that connects food products to their local origins is a growing trend.805938_tractor1

Last week, grocer giant Safeway announced it is targeting the locavore demographic by launching an in-store “Locally Grown” marketing campaign. The company intends to showcase specific farmers who have provided local stores with fresh produce ranging from corn and beans to apples. Safeway also believes the emphasis on buying and selling local products will enhance its position as an environmentally responsible company. Fewer trucks hauling produce fewer miles translates to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Kim Severson, writing for the New York Times, points out that marketers are stretching the meaning of locavore. Traditionally, the term applied to consumers who bought produce at local farm stands.  These days, Frito-Lay is introducing consumers to the farmers who grow their potatoes and Hunt’s is letting us know that it sources tomatoes from farms within a 2 hour drive of their processing facility. The bottom line is campaigns like these are as much about keeping consumers informed about what they’re putting on the kitchen table as they are about increasing sales. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your customers on a topic that has become a cultural touchstone.

[Sources: Safeway release, June 2009; Severson, Kim. “When ‘Local’ Makes It Big,” New York Times, 5.12.09]