South West Produce Gets a Seasonal Bump

A recent survey by Cornish Mutual Insurance has found that consumers in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall are purchasing more local produce than this time last year, according to Cornish Mutual.

Of the respondents, 33% said that they now buy more local food and drink than they did 12 months ago. The product that people most liked to buy locally was vegetables, followed closely by fresh meat. The survey also found that more than half of respondents — 51% — had purchased local produce within the last week.

It was found that 29% of respondents were prepared to pay 10% more for local produce. This represents a good proportion but is, in fact, lower than the average number of people willing to pay more for local goods across the UK (42%) or Europe (55%).

The main reason given for this shift back to regional produce was the desire to support local farmers, with 72% of respondents giving this as their main concern. The second most popular reason was the higher quality of local goods. This reflects the findings of a European wide survey, which also listed these as the top reasons for buying local.

Cornish Mutual Managing Director Alan Goddard argued that the South West produces “some of the best food in the world” and that their “survey suggests this is a view shared by people who live across the four counties where we work” where “it is fantastic to see that so many are choosing homegrown produce to support their local farmers.”

This survey marks the launch of a new campaign by Cornish Mutual Insurance called Real Food Heroes. This aims to celebrate the “people behind the produce” and put rural businesses and farms in the spotlight across the South West.

The campaign started because many of Cornish Mutual’s members are involved in farming, produce and rural business — the firm was actually founded by farmers in 1903, according to their site. This is no surprise considering the South West’s agricultural sector contributes about £345 million to the UK economy each year. It does so with a range of agriculture including fruit, vegetables, sheep farms and dairy farms. Furthermore, according to Cornish Mutual, the region has seen an explosion in new rural businesses as farms diversify.