Reports Local Food Plan

Growing the Local Food Sector: A snapshot of barriers and solutions

The report shares the findings from 44 interviews with local food sector practitioners including growers, food processors, wholesalers, retailers, and public sector workers across the UK, on what should be done to transform local food systems. 

Download 3398Kb PDF

In this report, you will find:

  • Vision: An exploration of what interviewees envision for the future of local food.
  • Barriers: A detailed account of the obstacles hindering growth in the sector.
  • Solutions: Practical suggestions and strategies proposed to ensure local food can thrive.

Key insights from the report


  • High barriers to entry: Local food retailers struggle to compete with larger supermarkets. 
  • Lack of support for workers: Low pay, long hours, and burnout hinder scaling efforts despite strong interest and passion. 
  • Lack of local, sustainable produce: Farm-level issues and the need for government action limit supply. 
  • Setup constraints and infrastructure limitations: The sector lacks expertise and coordination, with gaps in both physical and digital infrastructure. 
  • High costs and customer demand gap: Local food often costs more, challenging customers. Insufficient customer offerings and lack of marketing capacity also hinder demand and scaling. 


Our interviewees suggested many ways to help grow the local food sector. Here is a taste of areas of greatest concensus.

  • Policy support: Including levelling the playing field with larger players and enable businesses to attract and retain talent. 
  • Aggregation: Streamline admin, logistics, processing, and marketing through food hubs, online platforms, and cooperatives. 
  • Investment: To build necessary infrastructure such as local food processors, and food aggregation hubs.
  • Sector coordination: To enable streamlining and economies of scale.  
  • Customer demand generation: through marketing and a better, and more convenient customer offer. 

This report is a collaboration between Sustain, the Landworkers Alliance, Pasture for Life, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, and Sustainable Food Trust. 

Growing the Local Food Sector: A snapshot of barriers and solutions
59pp - 2024 | 3398Kb


Published Thursday 6 June 2024

Local Food Plan: Reviving local food for our communities, economies and nature

59pp - 2024


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