Our Master of Global Food and Agricultural Markets talk about reasons to support local food. Let us know what you think!
By Nguyen Anh Duc, Marvin Tjua, Yee Shan Ng, and Gengtao Liu.
1. Locally grown products are fresher
People prefer to consume fresher products. The time wasted to transport agricultural products from the farm to the market is shorter that consumers who buy those products will gain more benefits from its freshness. The reason could be that the crops are harvested at the peak of ripeness rather than being picked earlier for transporting and distributing to the market. Buying local products which only need shorter transportation time can support people to buy fresh food that affects the taste of your dishes and also the nutrient contents.
2. Better traceability
People can easily track where the agricultural products come from. This traceability can bring better trust for buying products especially when people buy perishable products. Traceability becomes more important aspect which people are more concerned about health issues and the track record of companies by its quality products.
3. Consuming local products means supporting local economy
There is no doubt that buying local products will impact the existence of local food companies. Their struggles by competing both national and international products will threat them slowly unless or at least they can compete with sufficient fund and advanced technology. People can help local producers to keep producing products and improving their technology implementation by buying their products so that producers can get money to improve system, technology, and income for enlarging their business.
4. Supporting local food means reaching efficiency on energy and food miles
Buying local food who only need shorter time for transporting products from the farm to the market will bring the efficiency of using energy. Indirectly, it can minimize the climate change effects due to the using largely amount of fossil fuel. Moreover, we can minimize food miles. Food mile is a measure of the distance food is transported from farming to be readily consumed (Ethical 2012). It is measured as the fuel used to transport products.
So with all those great reasons to consume local food, are there actually any cons?
Perhaps a few.
1. Limited consumers’ choices
The consumers have limited choices for the off-season products. For example, people who live in Northern Hemispheres do not have an opportunity to taste the Australian cherries during the winter season. The consumers from the temperate regions also cannot find any of the tropical fruits as well.
The geographical limitations could also lead to unavailability of local food for consumers because some regional areas have insufficient
natural resources for food production. For example, Hong Kong has a very small agricultural sector with less than 7 percent of land for agricultural activities, and thus the consumers here have limited choices of consuming local food (Nations Encyclopaedia 2015).
2. Concerns of product’s diversification and quality
Not only the buyers are difficult to find products in the counter seasons but also the products’ diversification and quality are concerned. How can the customers optimize their utilities if the products are only provided within a specific region? Moreover, the quality of local food might be reduced when there is lack of competition.
3. Fewer incentives for local producers
To the point view of the producers, they have less incentives to supply only for the regional market rather than to sell the products outside where they can earn higher profits.
4. Food certification – asymmetric information
Another important disadvantage we might concern is food certification. In fact, most local farmers owing small farms are not regulated, and the asymmetric information might be occurred. For example, the consumers are not able to know if the organic local foods are truthfully and informatively labelled (Versprille, 2013)
Pictures: Brington Sunday market – October 11, 2015
1. Ethical 2012, Food Miles and Buying Local, viewed on 8th October 2015, http://www. ethical.org.au/
2. Nations Encyclopaedia 2015, Hong Kong – Agriculture, Nations Encyclopaedia, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/Hong-Kong-AGRICULTURE.html>.
3. Versprille, L 2013, Local Food and disadvantages, APsense, viewed 6 October 2015, <https://www.apsense.com/article/local-food-and-disadvantages.html>.