Texas supermarkets, grocers, including Whole Foods and Kroger stores, increasingly looking to source foods locally in response to consumer demand

LOS ANGELES , March 23, 2012 () – In response to consumer demand for local grocery items, Texas grocers are increasingly looking to source foods locally, The Star-Telegram reported March 21.

As part of this trend, Texan grocers are forming relationships with local producers, and in some cases are encouraging them to try new crops such as bell peppers, cantaloupes, cauliflowers or eggplants.

Whole Foods Market Inc. has expanded its range of Texas-made cheese. It is also planning to expand its beer selection by a minimum of 10 Texas craft breweries.

Kroger Co. has introduced its Nolan Ryan's Beef program, which provides all-natural Texas beef, in all of its Texas stores.

Any potential expansion in the growth of consumables produced in Texas is limited by growing conditions, competition and climate.

Less expensive fruits and vegetables provided by California, Central American and Florida have limited the profitability of Texas-grown crops.

The production of fresh vegetables in Texas has been declining since the 1990s. In the 2000s, it suffered an even sharper decline, said Weslaco, Texas-based extension economist Luis Ribera.

Ribera said that Texas-grown produce might be able to compete in niche markets such as greenhouse potatoes, tomatoes and watermelons.

Texas State University historian James McWilliams said that the carbon footprint of locally grown produce is not much smaller than the carbon footprint of produce that is shipped over longer distances. According to a study conducted in 2008, 83% of a U.S. household’s food consumption carbon footprint came from greenhouse gas emissions generated during the production phase. By contrast, only 11% of emissions came from the transportation phase.

The primary source of this article is on The Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas, on March 21, 2012.

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