NI consumers fiercely loyal to local products

Tesco's Tess O'Neil, left, with  William Gilpin, Gilfresh, Jamie Thompson, Punjana, Tracy Hamilton, Mash Direct and Bryan Boggs, Clandeboye Estate
Tesco's Tess O'Neil, left, with William Gilpin, Gilfresh, Jamie Thompson, Punjana, Tracy Hamilton, Mash Direct and Bryan Boggs, Clandeboye Estate

Northern Ireland consumers’ fierce loyalty to local produce has been underlined by new research which shows that six in every 10 items in our shopping baskets are produced in the province.

The independent research carried out for Tesco by Ulster University Business School, has been published as the supermarket giant prepares for its 10th Taste Festival, which runs in Belfast this weekend.

The research which examined consumer perceptions of Northern Ireland food and drink, revealed that two-thirds of respondents (71.8%) said it was fairly or very important to them that they supported their local food and drink industry.

Loyalty for local family businesses was a major driver for purchasing local (91.1%), followed by ‘a sense of pride for the country’ – a sentiment shared by almost three-quarters of respondents (70.3%).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Lynsey Hollywood, from the Business School, said Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector had successfully managed to crack the community mind-set:

“The research findings were very clear in demonstrating that Northern Ireland consumers want to buy locally grown and produced food and drink products.

“What was really interesting however, was the fact that, in addition to the anticipated consumer motivators such as taste and quality, the resounding consensus among respondents was that they were doing their bit for the local economy, and then some - right down to the micro level of supporting family businesses.

“Buying locally produced food and drink generates a feeling of patriotism and community, not always easily achieved here.”

When asked why they purchased local products, ‘supporting the local economy’ (93.9%), ‘supporting a family business’ (91.1%) and knowing ‘where your food is from’ (89.9%) were among the top three reasons. Better quality (71.3%), a feeling of trust (74.6%), better taste (62.7%) and a ‘sense of pride about my country’ (70.3%) were also key motives.

“Like us, our customers believe in the importance of quality, local produce and they want to support local farmers, growers and producers, because in return, they enjoy some of the best tasting, quality food and drink available,” said Tess O’Neill, commercial manager at Tesco Northern Ireland.