Consumers are still hungry for locally produced food, but suppliers often fail to research their market and are ill-prepared for dealing with major retailers.
Research by the think tank IGD for Food from Britain (FFB) showed that, since March 2005, the percentage of shoppers claiming to buy local food had increased by 6%. Almost two-thirds (65%) now bought local and 9% expressed an interest in buying local if it was easier to find.
The FFB chief executive David McNair said: "The increased availability of regional foods is having a clear impact on sales, but there are still significant opportunities out there."
Karen Todd, local and ethnic products manager for Asda, which sells 2,112 products from 380 suppliers local to its stores, said the challenge for suppliers was to recreate regional tastes and delicacies, while producing foods that were recognisable and priced fairly -- albeit at a slight premium.
They had to be passionate about food, understand markets and listen to consumers, rather than make assumptions and be arrogant with retailers, she said.