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Canadians favor local food – and are willing to pay a premium

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 17-Aug-2012
Last updated on 17-Aug-2012 at 15:10 GMT

Most Canadians try to buy locally produced food – and many are willing to pay a significant premium for it, according to the results of a new Bank of Montreal (BMO) survey.

BMO Financial Group questioned more than 1,000 randomly selected Canadian adults online about their attitudes to local food. It found that nine in ten Canadians try to buy Canadian grown vegetables, 86% aim to buy Canadian fruit, followed by 84% for poultry, 81% for cheese, and 78% for beef.

The survey suggested that on average, Canadians are willing to pay about 16% more for Canadian fruit and vegetables, and about 19% more for domestically raised beef.

"BMO research suggests that Canadians are becoming increasingly loyal to the notion of buying local food, particularly fruits and vegetables, cheese, beef and poultry,” said David Rinneard, National Manager, Agriculture, BMO Bank of Montreal. “Consumers appreciate the quality of food produced by local farm families and recognize the importance of supporting an agricultural sector that accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada.”

Survey participants indicated that their top reason for buying Canadian food was supporting Canadian producers (28%). Fourteen percent cited freshness as a main benefit of buying local; 10% said the environment; and 9% said food safety was a top driver.

Which foods Canadians tend to buy locally also depends on the specialties of their region, the survey found. For example, Ontarians and British Columbians are most likely to buy Canadian when they buy wine, while Albertans are most likely to buy local beef.

BMO Capital Markets senior economist Kenrick Jordan said: “Food safety is a major issue for Canadian consumers and the ability to trace the source of their food to a trusted source is very important to them. Consumers are responding by purchasing produce and other food items from local producers, which is crucial to the health of the local economy as well.”

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