Global: Most consumers want to eat local food – but how do climate change beliefs affect appetites?

Global: Most consumers want to eat local food – but how do climate change beliefs affect appetites?

According to the United Nations (UN), food production, packaging and distribution generates a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80% of global biodiversity loss.  

To reduce our environmental impact, the UN encourages consumers to eat more plant-based food (which uses less natural resources to produce than meat) that is locally-grown (which requires less carbon-emitting transportation than imported produce).  

But, given a choice, do consumers prefer buying food sourced from their own country or from abroad? 

Where do consumers most prefer buying local food? 

Latest research from YouGov reveals that, on average, three in five consumers worldwide say they prefer purchasing food from their own country (60%). 

Of the 18 major markets surveyed, consumers in Italy are most enthusiastic about their local produce – just under three-quarters prefer buying food produced in their own country (74%).

The consumers in EMEA next most likely to prefer local agriculture and aquaculture products reside in Sweden (71%), France (67%) and Spain (67%). Meanwhile, consumers in Denmark (57%) and Great Britain (54%) are least likely to prefer buying local-origin food – even though a majority still have a preference for it. 

Canada is the only AMERS market surveyed where consumers who prefer local food (65%) are above the global average (60%), with a smaller proportion of consumers in Mexico (59%) and USA (56%) saying the same.  

In APAC, consumers most likely to prefer food produced in their own country reside in India (70%), Australia (69%) and Indonesia (64%). Meanwhile, consumers in Singapore (34%) and Hong Kong (30%) – cities which import most of their food from neighboring markets – are the least likely to say they prefer buying local produce. 

Do attitudes towards climate change impact food buying preferences? 

Across most markets, consumers who express concern about climate change are more likely than those who aren’t concerned to prefer food produced in their own country.

This pattern is most pronounced in Indonesia where consumers who worry about climate change are 23% more likely than those who don’t to prefer buying local food, followed by France (+19%) and Germany (+18%).  

On the other hand, this trend is reversed in three markets: the USA where consumers who worry about climate change are 17% less likely than those who don’t to prefer buying local food, as well as Singapore (-5%) and the UAE (-2%).  

Summarily, preference for buying local food is ≥10% higher among consumers concerned about climate change than those who aren’t in:

  • Most EMEA markets (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden) – except for Great Britain (+8%), Poland (+6%) and the UAE (-2%)
  • Most AMERS markets (Canada, Mexico) – except for the USA (-17%)
  • Some APAC markets (Australia, India, Indonesia) – except for Hong Kong (8%), mainland China (2%) and Singapore (-5%) 

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Methodology: YouGov Custom Research is a full end-to-end service from YouGov experts, from sample framing and questionnaire design to analysis and more, which provides bespoke market intelligence and research insights. Data for this article is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets, with sample sizes varying between 514 and 2036, which were conducted online in March 2022. YouGov surveys of each market use a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Custom Research.