Worker co-op Unicorn Grocery has been named the Best Food Retailer at the 17th BBC Food and Farming Awards. The Manchester based co-operative was nominated by its customers and was shortlisted from a list of 528 food retailers.
The other finalists were Organic Farmshop in Cirencester and Lavenham Butchers.
Since it was set up 20 years ago, vegan supermarket Unicorn has grown from four members to more than 70 and was named the Soil Association’s Best Independent Retailer in 2016.
It offers a range of affordable, fresh, wholesome food, with a focus on organic and Fairtrade products. Judges Gill Meller and Joanna Blythman, who visited the shop, said they were impressed by the range and quality of the produce on offer.
Unicorn, which previously won the award in 2008 as well, is run by its employee-owners, who are managers of the business, taking on equal responsibility and shifting roles for equal pay.
“We feel delighted, proud,” said worker-owner Dan Holden. “Thank you to all our customers and growers who nominated us. We would be nothing without our farmers.”
Another co-op, Seed Co-operative, was among the finalists in the Future Food Award category.
The community-owned company from South Lincolnshire was among the three nominee selected for the award. It breeds “open pollinated seeds that everyone can grow, everyone can save for the next year, and everyone can afford,” in a bid to improve sustainability and protect biodiversity.
David Price of the Seed Co-operative said: “We are delighted to have been given this chance to tell our story about the future of food. Food is not ‘man-made’ but produce of the natural world and it all starts with seed.
“We are bringing seed production back home and re-connecting farmers, growers, gardeners, chefs and ‘people who eat’ with the natural world, through co-operation. Vitality, diversity and resilience is what our seed is all about.”