Higher local prices? A trip to the farm might help

7/15/2011

An overwhelming number of Canadians want to buy more locally grown food. But most will not pay extra for it–unless they happen to know a farmer personally.

That’s according to a survey by Angus Reid for Farm Credit Canada (FCC), a Regina-based financial institution that caters to the agricultural sector.

According to the results, 95% of Canadians say purchasing local food is a priority for them. However, only 43% are willing to shell out more money to eat locally. The results were almost identical when people were asked if they would pay more for Canadian-made products.

Opinions shifted, however, for Canadians who have a connection to agriculture.

Half (50%) of those surveyed who have a relative or friend working in the farming industry said they would pay more for locally grown food.

Numbers were up slightly (46%) for people who had visited a farm at least once.

People in Ontario were more willing to pay more for locally grown and Canadian products (46% and 47% respectively) than anywhere else in the nation. Not surprisingly, Canadians with incomes higher than $100,000 a year were also inclined to pay more.

“I’m not surprised by the survey results. Purchasing decisions are often driven by price,” said Jean-Phillippe Gervais, FCC’s senior agriculture economist.

He said most Canadians aren’t aware how little they pay for food in comparison to previous generations. Ten per cent of the average household budget now goes toward food. In the 1960s it was 19%.

FCC president Greg Stewart said the agriculture industry would benefit if people knew more about the business.

"In Canada, we have a sweet deal. We're fortunate that our farmers and food processors produce safe, high-quality food at some of the lowest prices in the world." he said.

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