Locally produced food is gaining popularity with consumers and they are willing to open up their wallets to get it.

According to research from Loyalty.com, 61 percent of Canadians say purchasing local food is important and nearly half would pay up to 30 percent more to get it. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they’d increase their budget if a local alternative were more readily available.

“Our customers love to know where the food comes from, they like to know it’s made in the same city that they live in,” said Carson Bonina, whose family owns Stong’s Market in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighborhood.

Bonina joined other grocers in Vancouver to hear pitches and sample products from local food producers Western Canada. Their products were on display at the Grocery and Specialty Food West at the Vancouver Convention Centre Tuesday.

We sampled products from Hanes Hummus, made by Johannes Petros of Saskatoon, a grandmother’s spicy recipe for Hellish Relish, from Vernon, B.C., and Mojo Jojo Pickles and preserves, made by Johwanna Alleyne from Edmonton.

Their products may be inviting and tasty but it’s a lot of the effort to get them noticed by grocers and to get space on store shelves.

“Yes, it’s been incredibly difficult,” Petros said. He has hired a company out of Edmonton called Localize to try to get his products attention.

“Consumers want it. They want more local food,” said Localize CEO Meghan Dear.

Her company helps label locally produced food to help tell the story behind the products, where it’s from and how it’s made. They even have QR codes that will allow you to use an app on your phone to learn more, while browsing store shelves.

The most preferred locally produced foods are fruits and vegetables, followed by locally produced meat, beer and wine.

However, the smaller producers have a struggle to compete against larger multi- nationals. The bigger food companies often pay for prime space in grocery stores. That’s why independent grocers are a good place to start and a lot of smaller grocers were represented at the Vancouver exhibition and were willing to take a chance to help grow the industry.

“A lot of the products are coming out of British Columbia,” said Calgary Grocer, Sue Ghebari of MRT Family Foods.