Locally sourced food has the potential to account for 10% of food sales within a decade if the industry adopts a more collaborative approach, a new report has claimed.

Local food currently makes up about 1.5% of the total UK food market, with sales of £2.34bn.

With the right approach from retailers and producers, that figure could reach £15.6bn in 10 years, the report by consultant Henry Brown and farmer John Geldard said.

The report defined local as British, seasonal, sold within a limited area and recognised as local by consumers.

To achieve significant growth, industry leaders should set up a steering group to establish and implement the goals highlighted, recommended its authors. A local food information centre should be set up to promote local messages to consumers, they said.

Retailers also needed to do more to merchandise local food better in store, ensuring displays were full, sales maximised and wastage reduced, while a system of store accreditation should be set up for supermarkets that sold local food.

The report added that producers should scale up production to supply large customers, who in turn needed to offer them the chance to recoup that investment. "A substantial increase in the volume of local food can only be achieved through action in the mainstream food market - supermarkets, foodservice and public sector - where most food is sold in the UK," the report said.

Local food hubs should also be used by producers so larger customers could source food without altering their centralised distribution systems, it added.

I t also encouraged producers to collaborate via a marketing desk approach that would give them more strength to supply national organisations.

Although targeted primarily at the industry, the report urged the Government to offer encouragement and financial support for the expansion of local food.