Research has revealed that 93% of consumers now actively choose to buy local food and drink brands with 27% "always" now opting to buy local.

When asked why they choose to buy local, 81% in the Republic of Ireland and 76% in Northern Ireland said that supporting the economy is core motivator.

Other key motivators were stated as 'better quality’ and 'traceability', both at 47%.

The research was carried out by Belfast branding and marketing agency, The Foundation. The recently published results provide information on how consumers are responding to local brands and the impact of Covid-19 on the food and drink sector.

The study also discovered that there is shopper demand for clear origin labelling with 86% of consumers saying they would value a quick and easy way to identify local food and drink when shopping.

However, a high majority of respondents, 71%, said that they can’t always find local brands when shopping.

The research also discovered that ‘purpose’ is now an important factor when it comes to choice.

Food and drink brands - community and online

About eight in 10, or 79%, of consumers support local food and drink brands that are active in their community with the same number citing ‘local heritage’ as an important factor.

For the 18-24 age group, their interest in food and drink selection spikes when it comes to brands being involved in the community.

The research also found that 55% of respondents visited food and drink websites from time to time, and 48% of respondents look up food and drink brands online, underpinning the need for local producers to tell their story and build a wider narrative around their marketing.

Commenting on the research, Brendan Gallen, strategy director of The Foundation said:

We know that consumers want to buy local, this has been a trend for some years.

"However, our research suggests that this has significantly increased since pre-pandemic times with over one in two people now buying more local products.

An overwhelming majority of shoppers are now actively choosing to support local brands, and for brands here, this is a huge opportunity,” he said.

Almost 500 consumers across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland participated in the online survey which was conducted in September 2021.

The 32-page report is available here