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December 06, 2011

Local Food Market Demand Study Confirms That Hawaii Residents Want More Locally Grown Products and Are Willing to Pay More For It

Categories: Press Release | Food

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HONOLULU – The Ulupono Initiative has released the results of a detailed consumer survey of nearly 1,200 shoppers across Oahu that reveals an overwhelming majority of residents believe buying local is very important. The results of the survey indicate that many residents are willing to pay more for some Hawaii-grown products.

The report, titled “Local Food Market Demand Study of Oahu Shoppers,” commissioned by the Ulupono Initiative and conducted by the OmniTrak Group, showed that 81 percent of shoppers believe that too little food is grown in Hawaii. Currently, Hawaii consumers spend only about 8 percent of their food budget on locally grown food, while they spend the rest on imports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We initiated this study to better understand the consumer side of supply-and-demand across Hawaii’s food system. With consumers spending only about 8 percent of their food budget on locally grown food, we wanted this study to provide an insight into the minds of Hawaii’s grocery shoppers,” said Robin Campaniano, general partner of the Ulupono Initiative. “We hope the results of this study will be valuable to others in our community who share Ulupono’s interest in producing more locally grown food.”

The study also asked a smaller sample of 600 Oahu consumers and found that while price- conscious, they would be willing to pay more for select local products based on their quality (especially freshness and taste), trust of local farmers to grow foods that are safer to eat and desire for meat free of antibiotics and hormones. If the locally grown products were available and easily identifiable, shoppers would be willing to pay up to $1.25 more than Mainland products for each dozen of local eggs; up to $1.75 more per pound of apple bananas; and as much as $2.13 a pound more for local rib-eye steak.

Kathy Fujihara-Chong, president of the OmniTrak Group, a company that has been analyzing Hawaii trends for 30 years, said these survey results show “exceptionally strong support” for local food. “It’s uncommon for market research studies to show a combination of such high levels of support as well as broad consensus across all demographics,” said Fujihara-Chong.

Some additional key findings of the survey revealed that Hawaii consumers would like to see the following:

  • Hawaii Residents Want Local Foods – Residents on Oahu believe that it is extremely important that Hawaii grow its own local food, with more than 80 percent of residents believing that there is currently not enough local food grown in the state. The data showed support throughout neighborhoods, income levels, ages, education levels and ethnicities.
  • Retail Distribution of Local Food Is Critical – A majority of Oahu consumers buy groceries from supermarkets, due mainly to convenience of location and availability of desired brands and would be more satisfied with an increased availability and amount of locally grown food.
  • “Grown in Hawaii” Sometimes More Important than Price – Being locally grown was most often the second or third most important attribute in determining consumer preference.
  • Consumers Can’t Identify What’s Local – A major challenge mentioned by consumers in the survey was difficulty distinguishing between locally grown and imported foods. Many consumer feel “grown in Hawaii” is more important than price.
  • Inconsistent Availability and Quality Hinders Purchasing – A common complaint voiced among Hawaii consumers was the lack of consistent availability of local products in the quantities desired.

The survey was conducted from March 14 to May 31, 2011 by OmniTrak Group. Those responding represented a sampling of districts from across O‘ahu and were identified as the primary food shopper for their household. The sampling margin of error is +/- three percent and the survey size is comparable to a presidential poll.

A PowerPoint presentation and an executive summary of the Local Food Market Demand of Oahu Shoppers Study are available at www.ulupono.com. To request a copy of a more detailed report, please email info@uluponoinitiative.com.

Ulupono Initiative LLC strives to improve the quality of life for the people of Hawaii by working toward solutions that create more locally grown food, increase clean renewable energy production and reduce waste. For more information about the Ulupono Initiative, please visit www.ulupono.com.