“Buying local” is a major trend of the moment. But it’s more than just a fad. For businesses like local restaurants, using locally sourced food can be a major selling point and benefit. Here are ten reasons why your restaurant should consider using locally sourced food.
Locally Sourced Food is Fresher
According to LocalHarvest.org the average distance that fruits and vegetables in the U.S. travel before reaching their final destination is about 1,500 miles. So when you buy items from large distributors, you’re probably getting something that was grown, picked and preserved to make that journey. But if you buy locally, you can get items that were just picked, so they’re much fresher and more appealing to customers.
Locally Sourced Food is Environmentally Friendly
Because local food doesn’t have to go through all of that travel or need all those preservatives, it’s often much better for the environment. This can help you lower your business’s carbon footprint. And it can also lead to some decent PR for your business.
Locally Sourced Food is Often Healthier
When you buy from local farms, you’re more likely to get organic food products and products made without tons of artificial substances and chemicals than you would if you were to buy from large distributors. This often means that the food is more natural and healthy, allowing you to easily appeal to the growing base of health conscious consumers.
Locally Sourced Food Helps the Local Economy
Buying from local farms means there’s more money going back into your community. Researchers at Penn State have found that this leads to higher income per capita, meaning a stronger local economy and potentially happier consumers.
Locally Sourced Food Helps You Make Connections with Local Farmers
Buying locally can also help you build connections within your community. When you buy directly from farmers, you can work with them one-on-one and then build relationships over time. This can lead to a great working relationship that might lead to even more opportunities for your business and community in the future.
Locally Sourced Food Adds Interest to Your Menu
Which item would you rather order: “Pork Chops and Applesauce,” or “Schneck Farms Center Cut Chops and Jersey Acres Red Delicious Applesauce?” Adding that local flavor to your menu can really appeal to customers and make the experience of dining with you more memorable. It connects your customers with their dinner and your restaurant. Your products begin to tell a story.
Locally Sourced Foods Can Provide Seasonal Menu Inspiration
When you buy local food, you do have to keep the seasons in mind, because local farmers will only have the ability to grow certain foods while they’re in season. But that means you can change your menu with those offerings, offering specialty items that are only available for a limited time.
Locally Sourced Food Appeals More to Local Customers
According to the National Restaurant Association, 57 percent of adults say that they look for restaurants that serve locally sourced food when dining out. Since that’s something that customers actually go out of their way to look for, it can be a great way for you to market your business and add value to the customer experience.
Locally Sourced Food Also Appeals to Tourists
But it’s not just local consumers who love to see local food on the menu. If your restaurant is in an area that’s popular with tourists, having locally sourced food on the menu can help you appeal to those visitors who want a unique and authentic food experience.
Locally Sourced Food Can Help You Make More Money
While you might think that sourcing food locally is expensive, it isn’t necessarily as big of an obstacle as you might think. Since buying locally often means working directly with farmers, you have shorter supply chains which can help you save money. And studies from Nielsen and others have found that consumers are usually willing to pay more for food items that they perceive to be healthy or locally grown.
Farmers Market, Pizza Photos via Shutterstock