What does “local food” mean to Wisconsin consumers?

Wisconsin Local Food

From the Wisconsin Consumers and Local Food: Public Opinion, Trends & Marketing Recommendations Report

Most Wisconsin consumers (86%) agree that food grown in Wisconsin is local. Many (75%) consumers also feel that food grown within 50 miles and/or a one-hour drive from them is local. However, when the distance is larger (100 miles and/or a two hour drive), only 56% consider such food to be local. There is widespread agreement that food from states neighboring Wisconsin is not local. This does not change by region in the state, with the exception that over half (58%) the consumers in the North West do consider Minnesota to be local.

Consumers Buy More Local Dairy, Less Local Meat

Respondents rated how often they purchased local products on a 5-point scale, where a 1 meant “Never” and a 5 meant “Always.” On average, local dairy is purchased “often” (a 4 on the scale). Local eggs, vegetables, and fruit are purchased between “sometimes” and “often.” Packaged goods, beef, chicken, and pork are purchased less, closest to a 3 on the scale (corresponding to “sometimes”).

Most Consumers Say They Will Pay a Premium for Local

When comparing how much they would pay for a 5-pound bag of potatoes labeled “Wisconsin” to potatoes labeled “USA,” about 60% of respondents said they would pay more for local potatoes, 30% would pay the same, and 6% would pay less. Of those willing to pay more, $1.00 more was most often selected. The percentages do not total 100 because 4% of the sample did not respond to this question.

Local Trumps Organic

Respondents rated how different attributes of produce influence their purchasing. “Fresh” was most important, followed by “taste.” Being grown in Wisconsin was not as important as price or convenience, but more important than organic. There are likely particular groups of consumers, however, for which organic certification is very important. This question used a 5-point scale, with a 1 meaning “Not at all” and a 5 meaning “A great deal.” The averages are shown in parentheses in the box to the right.’

Download the full report by visiting the University of Wisconsin Madison CALS website or download the 4-page brief here.