Food Buyers Want Local – Grocers Want Efficiency

Posted by Energy Wire on September 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM

A sluggish economy and a slow recovery hasn’t stopped three sustainability trends from staying strong in the food industry.
Two annual reports from the Food Marketing Institute show that the following are hot topics among grocery retailers:

  • organic foods
  • “locally sourced” items
  • energy efficient buildings

GreenBiz got a look at FMI's consumer-focused report, “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2011” in advance of its official release. According to the report, retail grocery consumers show a continued strong level of interest in organics, while their desire for “locally sourced” items is “skyrocketing”. More than 90 percent of consumers buy local food at least occasionally.

Much of the energy used in food production goes towards the manufacture of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Add to that the transportation, processing and packaging necessary to keep non-local foods fresh, and you’ve got the makings of a major draw on our energy resources.

Retailers are responding to the trends in favor of organic and local, but are even more concerned about energy costs, which rated in their top five concerns this year. They’re using green building techniques to maximize energy efficiency.

But they aren't necessarily going for LEED certification.

While 54 percent of retailers are pursuing green building initiatives, only 10 percent plan on building a LEED-certified store.

Why the push for efficiency without the accompanying certification?  “Too costly”, “don't see the benefits” and “don't want to take the time” topped grocery retailers’ responses.

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