In my previous blog I told you my thoughts on buying ‘local’ versus ‘imported’, this blog however is about a vital reason to actually buy local over imported: the carbon footprint associated with getting the product to my door.

As an example let’s take good ol’ milk from the supermarket.

Now of course I know all about shelf presence, perception, appeal and brand loyalty across a family of products, but when it comes to milk I just can’t justify any of these factors in purchasing; because to me milk is milk.

It tastes the same, looks the same, is milked in the same way and it all comes from lots of farms and is all mixed in together in a big stainless steel factory! It is an everyday consumable that is used in something else like coffee or cereal. All I need to know is; if it is light or full fat; the expiry date and if it is produced locally.

I don’t need to see a label embellished with quality cues. It is not a wine where varieties, blends and the crafting of wine, produces a variation in taste and quality. (Wine purchases are often based on the appeal of the label because most of us aren’t wine buffs with a palette that can distinguish the nuances of flavour the tasting notes on the back describe).

Instead we choose wine based on an interesting label at our allocated price point, so we look good and have a conversation piece when we take it to a dinner party. Not so with milk!

Without bashing the dairy industry, other dairy products such as cheeses are crafted by cheese makers for their distinctive textures and flavours etc. and in such a case, the label needs to communicate these qualities. It all helps to present a great look at a dinner party, or food hamper. Not so mass produced milk: farm fresh milk of course is a different case.

So, until recently I purchased milk based purely on price because with a young family we go through at least 2 litres a day easily. Now this is still the number one factor, but the carbon footprint factor is now influencing my purchasing decision too.

I have friends who purchase milk on the basis that it is produced in WA because they know some local dairy farmers – fair enough. I don’t know any and I am one who believes that a free market is a healthy market.

But what I, like many consumers are concerned with is purchasing a product that has been transported in refrigerated units across vast distances, burning up litre upon litre of fuel, unlike a locally produced product.

These days, the consumer is savvy and more aware and influenced by the background of a product rather than simply how pretty the label looks. You can even get an iPhone app that lets you scan a product barcode and in real time get, not just previous consumer’s comments on the product, but on the way the company operates from its green policies, right down to how they treat their staff.

So producers, you need to look at every step of your production methods, because your consumers are.

And for us designers and marketers when it comes to promoting brands I believe in giving the consumer the facts on the product so they can make an informed decision to purchase or not.

By simply being transparent, a consumer can choose to support a product because they see it as local as opposed to making the consumer feel pressure and guilt about having to support it with big statements like “Support a 100% WA Owned Dairy”, to me it only needs to say Western Australia.