Mapping local foods: evidence from two English regions

Brian Ilbery, David Watts, Sue Simpson, Andrew Gilg, Jo Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper sets out to engage with current debate over local foods and the emergence of what has been called an alternative food economy and to examine the distribution of local food activity in the South West and West Midlands regions of England.
Design/methodology/approach - Databases on local food activity were constructed for each region from secondary sources. The data were mapped by means of choropleth mapping at postcode district level.
Findings - Although local food activity is flourishing in the South West and, to a lesser extent, the West Midlands, it is unevenly distributed. Concentrations occur in both regions. These may relate to a variety of factors, including: proximity to urban centres and particular trunk roads, landscape designations and the geography of farming types. The products that tend to predominate horticulture, dairy, meat and poultry - can either be sold directly to consumers with little or no processing, or remain readily identifiable and defining ingredients after being processed.
Research limitations/implications - The findings require testing through a larger-scale survey using primary data. Many local food producers also supply conventional markets. Further research is required into their reasons for doing so and into whether the local food sector can become a significant alternative to conventional food supply chains.
Originality/value - The paper maps local food activity in England on a larger scale than attempted hitherto. It contributes to debate over the alternative food economy and provides a basis for further empirical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-225
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

This article is based on research conducted as part of a larger study, “Relocalisation and alternative food networks: a comparison of two regions”, funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (R000239980), to whom the authors offer their grateful thanks. Thanks also to two anonymous referees.


  • food products
  • agriculture and food technology
  • supply chain management
  • distribution
  • England


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