East of England Co-op names Wicks Manor Pork as its producer of the year

'This competition has been a great way to encourage our customers to think local and to champion our fantastic local producers'

A celebration of local produce saw pork supplier Wicks Manor named East of England Co-op’s Producer of the Year.

The family business, based in Maldon, Essex, has been producing premium pork since 1967. It grows crops for feed, and rears and prepares its meat, and is run by brothers Fergus and Hamish Howie.

Fergus picked up the award at the society’s annual supplier supper, which celebrated the best East Anglian produce. He said: “Amazing, I am so thrilled we won. It is such a great accolade, particularly on this milestone year for the East of England Co-op as they celebrate 150 years in business.

“It means so much to have the hard work that every single member of the Wicks Manor team puts in recognised – and is especially meaningful as we reached the final thanks to votes from the public.”

He added: “All the nominated producers are inspiring and it is a privilege to be part of the network of East of England Co-op Sourced Locally producers here tonight. We all do our part to make people proud of East Anglian food and drink.

“I cannot wait to take this award back to the farm and celebrate with the whole team.”

Wicks Manor was chosen by a panel of food and farming experts including Emma Hibbert from Adnams. It achieved top marks, with its holistic approach to farming receiving particular praise. The business recently celebrated 50 years of farming by giving customers the chance to create a new sausage flavour.

Other finalists included suppliers from Norfolk and Suffolk, Buxton Potatoes and Havensfield Eggs.

A total of 28,638 votes were cast across the region, an increase of 48% from the previous year. As part of the contest local producers hosted a number of activities to generate support from communities, including a Tractor Taste Tour and a taste test for children from The Co-op Juniors theatre group.

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at East of England, said: “Many congratulations to Wicks Manor Pork and all our nominated producers for their hard work and deserved success this year.

“This competition has been a great way to encourage our customers to think local and to champion our fantastic local producers. Thank you to all who supported Producer of the Year 2018 and I hope you continue to enjoy great-tasting local produce in our stores.”

The co-op works with a total of 100 local producers through its Sourced Locally initiative, having generated £62m for the regional economy since launching in 2007.

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