Call it slow food, sustainable business, or local sourcing, but it’s all about supporting your local businesses right now in America, a trend that has been building for the last five years. If you’re looking for an example of the impact of sustainability in the food supply chain, look no further than retail giant Wal-Mart, who pledged last year to dramatically boost the locally grown produce it purchases from small and medium-sized farmers in the U.S. and abroad. Their goal includes tripling local sourcing globally and doubling the local produce purchased in the U.S.
While Wal-Mart’s initiative is partly an effort to improve its corporate image by reducing its environmental impact, it is also in response to rising consumer interest in local food and beverage production. This trend is manifested in developments such as the proliferation of farmers’ markets and the spread of the “Locavore Movement”, calling for the consumption of locally grown foods. With chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association naming locally sourced meats, seafood and produce as one of the hot trends on menus, even restauranteurs are taking note. Demand for local food production is being driven by factors such as a lower carbon footprint in relations to a shorter driving distance to market, the economic advantages of local food production for individual communities and the environmental benefits of maintaining and protecting the biodiversity of local farmland. We also see this trend in Florida where we make Lust Vodka, when restaurants like JB’s on the Beach in Deerfield make special place on their menus for locally sourced product. Successful restaurateurs like Dennis Max have also had great success with Max’s Harvest in Delray Beach, whose entire menu is locally sourced.
Americans are increasingly moving toward locally brewed craft beer due to its better taste, innovation and brewing techniques; another trend supporting this movement. In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels of craft beer and increased market share to 11%, compared to 7.8% in 2013. In 2014, the number of operating breweries in the United States grew by 19% to 3,464. These craft breweries include 1,871 microbreweries, 1,412 brewpubs, and 135 regional craft breweries.
(FUN FACT: For years, Jim Cook, CEO of Boston Beer / Sam Adams, gave almost 25% of the hops he purchased each year to all his best competition in the craft brewing industry. This action helped numerous large breweries stay open during the earlier years of craft brewing and they are still around to enjoy the growth today.)