Whilst 2016 has, overwhelmingly, marked a decline in molecular gastronomy and the use of liquid nitrogen in cooking more generally, it has spawned a number of new food trends in their place – many of which seem to be driven, ultimately, by renewed emphasis on the natural, rather than the artificial. In that same vein, local-sourcing has become increasingly big business; indeed, a recent study highlighted that the volume of local sourced products within the hospitality and retail sector is, for the fourth time in a row, up more than a third.
Local-sourcing has always been on the agenda for businesses and consumers alike; buying closer to home has, for a long time, represented better quality and more competitive pricing. Typically representing much shorter supply chains and, in turn, far less in the way of transportation, obtaining goods closer locally has significant and positive cost implications. However, in more recent times, and following new weight applied to the environment and sustainability, local provenance has been supplanted with new social and ethical motivations. Likewise, for a business to be demonstrably “taking care of its own” and supporting the local economy via local procurement is, in time of economic uncertainty, increasingly attractive to local customers.
For all the perceived advantages of local procurement, it is in fact the notion of better quality that most commonly drives food operators and restaurateurs to go local. More than half of businesses in the sector cite “freshness” as the main factor in their decision to buy goods nearby rather than from either national or international markets.
Of course, not only can smaller, local suppliers deliver more quickly but they can, too, react more quickly to market changes – lending themselves easily to innovation. Whilst they mightn’t have the financial power of larger multinational corporations, local suppliers do have the edge where product development is concerned. Unrestricted by a central company header or an overarching business model by which they must adhere, local companies are then free to adapt, change and evolve in line with market demand as well as the particular requirements of clients.
To opt to source locally is then to engage with a number of pressing business interests, including: efficiencies, value for money, environmentalism and innovation. In that case, it’s hardly surprising that such a proportion of businesses are getting on board and, moreover, that customers are 100% behind them.