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Consumer Trends: Canadians Will Pay Premium For Local Food

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 12:00pm

(Marketwire) — In advance of Food Day Canada celebrations on August 4th, a new BMO survey underscores Canadians' commitment to local food. The BMO study suggests that most Canadians try to buy local products when they shop for groceries and are willing to pay a premium to put local food on their kitchen tables. On average, Canadians are willing to pay 16 per cent more for domestic fruits and vegetables and 19 per cent more for Canadian meat products.

The study also revealed that:

-- Canadians are most likely to buy Canadian food products when grocery shopping for vegetables (91 per cent), fruit (86 per cent), poultry (84 per cent), cheese (81 per cent), and beef (78 per cent).

-- The number one benefit cited for buying Canadian food when grocery shopping is supporting Canadian producers (28 per cent). Freshness (14 per cent), the environment (10 per cent), and safety (9 per cent) are also recognized as top benefits.

"BMO research suggests that Canadians are becoming increasingly loyal to the notion of buying local food, particularly fruits and vegetables, cheese, beef and poultry. Consumers appreciate the quality of food produced by local farm families and recognize the importance of supporting an agricultural sector that accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada," said David Rinneard, National Manager, Agriculture, BMO Bank of Montreal.

The Food Day Canada movement was founded in 2003 by Anita Stewart, a culinary activist. Starting this weekend, 250 restaurants across Canada will offer a special menu with Canada-only selections, and a number of awards will be given out for particularly creative options. There is also a Do-It-Yourself Guide, so no matter where Canadians find themselves - in the kitchen, at the backyard BBQ or a riverside campsite - they can also "Join the Party" and celebrate local food.

"Food Day Canada is the time and place for Canadians to have fun and celebrate local food, the important contributions of local producers to our rich and diverse culinary heritage, our delicious northern bounty and the best managed food system on the planet," said Ms. Stewart, President, Food Day Canada.

"Food safety is a major issue for Canadian consumers and the ability to trace the source of their food to a trusted source is very important to them. Consumers are responding by purchasing produce and other food items from local producers, which is crucial to the health of the local economy as well," said Kenrick Jordan, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

Regional Trends

Canadians' buy-local orientation is strongest for those food items for which their regions are renowned: in British Columbia, fruit and wine, beef in Alberta and the Prairies, fruits and vegetables Ontario, cheese in Quebec and fish in Atlantic Canada.

-- Ontarians and British Columbians are willing to pay the highest premium for Canadian-made products, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables and meat products. -- Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to buy Canadian food products when they shop for groceries. This local orientation is most pronounced when it comes to fish (Atlantic Canada: 60 per cent, Canada: 53 per cent).

-- Ontario and British Columbia residents are the most likely to buy Canadian when they shop for wine, reflecting the vibrant wine industries in those two provinces. -- Albertans are the most likely to buy local when they shop for beef (83 per cent).

-- Quebeckers are the most likely to buy their local food from fruit and vegetable stands.

Survey results cited are from online interviews with a random sample of 1,011 Canadians 18 years of age and over, conducted by Pollara between May 18 and May 23. A probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/-3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

BMO's roots in the Canadian agricultural sector date back to 1817, when it first began working with farmers. BMO Bank of Montreal provides customized loan and deposit solutions to Canada's agri-business owners, the single largest core commercial sector that the bank serves. For Canadian businesses, including those in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, looking to innovate, enhance productivity, and grow their business, BMO Bank of Montreal recently announced a credit boost of $10 billion over the next three years

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at April 30, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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