Local food is food produced locally, as close by as possible. The origins of local food can be traced to the farm or entrepreneur in question. Local food supports the preservation of local food cultures and local livelihoods, for example. The Natural Resources Institute Finland LUKE is studying the perceptions, needs and expectations of consumers related to local food and the various forms in which it is provided, as well as the business, strategies and growth prospects of local food entrepreneurs. LUKE is also studying the geographical accessibility of local food and its ecological effects, developing the business skills of entrepreneurs in the field and activating cooperation between actors.
Local food is one of the spearheads of Finland’s food policy. The aims of the local food programme, which was initiated in 2013, include the diversification of local food production and increasing volumes to meet demand, and to raise the degree of processing in local food, to increase the share of local foods in public procurement by improving procurement knowledge and quantitative criteria, and to enhance closer cooperation between actors in the local food sector while improving opportunities for primary production.
Challenges related to local food include the irregularity of product supply and the fact that it is often unidentifiable as local food, meaning that consumers are not always able to distinguish locally produced food in stores.
LUKE studies local food from various angles
LUKE produces scientific data on local food in support of decision making – for instance via the local food programme – and to enable operational development among entrepreneurs in the sector. This also promotes the business know-how of entrepreneurs in the sector and boosts competitiveness, thereby increasing the use of local food.
In addition, the Natural Resources Institute Finland supports regional industry actors in forming closer networks. This research-based development involves creating regional approaches to the enhancement of cooperation and increasing the use of local foods in public kitchens and food services, for instance.