Advantages and disadvantages of local fruits and vegetables

Paola E. Haiat
March 23, 2021

Local fruits and vegetables – or, otherwise known as proximity products, zero-kilometer, or short-chain fruits and vegetables. Local fruits and vegetables are produced in a close ratio (approximately 100 kilometers maximum), which evidently is a relatively short distance between the producer and the final consumer.

The trend was originated in the United States during the 1970s and was first introduced in Europe in Italy under the slogan "Slow food", led by Carlo Pietrini. These movements advocated local consumption as a strategy to promote a closer appreciation with food, as opposed to the "fast food" concepts

As a result of Covid-19, during the last year the demand for local fruit and vegetables increased by 87% in France, while in Spain 67% of consumers are also opting for kilometer zero products.

According to the Cetelem Observatory, 51% of European consumers prefer products produced in their country, with 22% preferring that they be produced in their region, thus promoting local trade.

 

What aspects can be complicated by local fruits and vegetables?

1. Local fruits and vegetables only offer seasonal products.

2. Since they are adapted to the region in which they are grown, the supply and variety of products is widely reduced.

3. With far fewer chemical additives used for preservation, if too much time elapses between harvest and final sale, the fruits and vegetables can go bad too quickly before reaching the consumer.

 

What are the advantages of local fruits and vegetables?

1. Freshness: as they go through fewer intermediaries, the time required for storage ortransport does not compromise the freshness of the fruits and vegetables.

2. Being seasonal products have health benefits, since they provide the nutrients that the body needs depending on the region and season of the year in which they are consumed.

3. Since local fruits and vegetables don’t face adverse situations in transportation and time they avoid using chemicals on their products.

 

What initiatives exist?

Supermarkets are increasingly concerned about having a label that endorses "proximity products". In Catalonia, for example, supermarkets such as Caprabo have done so with their "seal of proximity" or Bonpreu with its "kilometer 0" label in the fruit and vegetable area. In French supermarkets we see the case of Carrefour, which has a section dedicated to talk about its fruits and vegetables "going from the garden to your table in 24 hours", referring to its work for local production; on the other hand, Walmart, a U.S. market present in Latin America, promotes local purchase in each area where it has a supermarket.

 

Conclusions

We can highlight that this approach is clearly increasing, motivated by the need to have fewer intermediaries or circumstances that allow fruits and vegetables to reach their final destination. At the same time, to be able to offer a varied and "safe" supply, imports and "long distance" supplies will continue to be channels that will allow to have a stable and well controlled stock if there is a reliable system to follow the orders.

 

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