Background: The purchase of local food is often argued to stimulate local economies through multiplier effects; this argument is questioned in this paper. Methods: The ScienceDirect, Wiley Online Library, Taylor and Francis Online, SpringerLink, AgECON, and Emerald databases were searched systematically. A complementary search in Google Scholar was also carried out. Peer-reviewed studies published between 2000 and 2019 were identified using multiple search terms. Data about four types of multipliers (output, employment, income, and value-added multipliers) were extracted. Results: Twenty-four papers fit the criteria, allowing for a qualitative assessment only. Sixteen papers found unambiguously that an increase in demand for local food had a directly positive impact on local economies in some way; one paper found no impact at all. The papers were classified into three groups based on their focal areas: marketing channel-focused, farm enterprise-focused, and scenario/impact analysis-focused studies. In terms of the methods of analysis, three major approaches were identified: input–output models, assessments of descriptive statistics, and econometric analyses. Considerations related to the potential overestimation of current approaches are presented. Conclusions: The existence of employment and income multipliers seems to be more evident, while the impacts of output- and value-added multipliers depend more on the actual context. Research gaps are also identified.
Keywords: spillover effect; economic benefit; locally produced food; direct marketing; regional development