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Do diners care about locally grown food?

Chef survey infographic EN

According to a recent survey done by Restaurants Canada and conducted by BrandSpark International, Canadian restaurant goers are less interested in locally grown food this year compared to last year.


By Joel Goldstein, president, Mr. Checkout Distributors



The results to this annual survey were collected by interviewing almost 500 Canadian chefs about what trends they expected to see in restaurants this year. Chefs were asked a variety of questions about customers’ preferred menu choices and cooking methods. The results were then used to create a top 10 list of hot trends for the food service industry.


Although locally grown food appeared at the #2 spot last year, it dropped down to #4 in this year’s survey, falling behind craft beer, house-cured meats and ethnic sauces. This shows that chefs believe customers are inquiring more about the selection of craft beers, meats and sauces than they are about the source of the food.


Does this mean that customers have lost interest in locally grown food? Not necessarily, according to Phillip Groff, director of Sustain Ontario. Groff believes that this represents a slight shift in customer priorities, however the fact that locally grown food still cracks the top 5 means that customers still care. Because the top 3 all represent preferences in taste and not food sourcing, it could mean that consumers have prioritized flavour over other factors when it comes to their food.


Throughout this list and the accompanying Up and Comers trend list, there is one prevalent theme: health-consciousness. Trends such as ancient grains, organic produce, “pulse” proteins and leafy greens are seen throughout both lists. In fact, this year is the first time that organic produce has made an appearance on either of these lists. What does this mean? Customers are still heavily focused on making healthy choices, which is good news for locally grown foods. Because eating locally grown gives customers fresher and healthier options than other food sources can offer, this trend fits in well with the other consumer preferences.


In the years to come, healthy eating will only continue to grow as knowledge of sustainability practices and natural ingredients continues to spread to more consumers. Because of this expected increase, the food service industry should still invest in serving locally grown food, as this trend has staying power in Canada.



Mr. Checkout is a national group of independent distributors and full-line grocery distributors, which together service approximately 35,000 stores around the USA. For companies that have a product for convenience stores or grocery stores, visit