What Does 'Local' Mean for Pork?

by 5m Editor
9 March 2010, at 12:00am

In surveys, consumers seem to be confused over the definition of 'local' but Professor Goddard said at the 2010 Banff Pork Seminar that whatever the definition, there is growing demand for local produce, including pig meat.

An interesting insight to Ellen Goddard's presentation on linking pork strategy to consumer preferences came during the brief Q&A session that followed. She was asked about the impact of 'local food' – described as 'the whole trend of eating local and knowing where your meat comes from'.

Dr Goddard is a professor and the Co-operative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business at the University of Alberta, who has led a number of consumer research studies, including a recent one on pork preferences that in part collected feedback on the new Canadian pork label.

Ellen Goddard

Though this study did not look specifically at the 'local' angle as a major, defined target, Professor Goddard drew on her broad perspective in this area as part of an insightful answer.

She said: "I have a sense that local is what people are looking for when they choose the Canadian pork label. My sense is though that we don't totally understand which segments of the population are really dedicated to local. People can define local around the 100-mile diet. They can define local by their province of origin. They can define local by their country. We have to analyse it in all of those contexts, because it's interesting to know what the relative differences in response are. That's something we want to explore in future studies."

Muddy definition but clear importance

Professor Goddard's hunch is keeping dollars closer to home and helping local producers is potentially a key driver, and anecdotal evidence from her pork study supports that. Defining 'local' is a challenge in this area of research, she says.

She explained: "I'm having trouble with that. In some contexts, I'm doing province of origin or in some cases looking at country. I'm not sure we're a big enough country where we want to compete among regions or provinces or whether that is going to pay off for anyone."

It is unclear what the consumer means when they state a preference for local, she says.

Professor Goddard added: "I know that not everybody thinks it's the 100-mile diet but they do feel a necessity to somehow rationalise their food purchases and 'local' whatever the definition is, seems to be becoming more important to them."

Further Reading

- You can view other reports from the 2010 Banff Pork Seminar by clicking here.

March 2010