East of England keeps it local for shoppers

A local sourcing initiative that has put over 500 products on supermarket shelves has evolved into a single brand to help raise its profile.

East of England Co-operative has brought its range of local products from 95 producers under the ‘Sourced Locally’ banner to create a more attractive brand for customers in its food stores across East Anglia.

Producers from East Anglia will continue to use their own packaging, clearly stating the product’s provenance, and customers will be able to identify local products thanks to new hanging boards and labelling on shelves and in chilled and frozen sections. 

To celebrate the contribution local sourcing partners make to the society, accreditation plaques were handed to producers at the launch of the brand last month.

Kevin Warden, the society’s Local Sourcing Manager, told the News: “When we say local, we mean local! We put products into the store closest to the producer and this is often just a few miles, or in some cases a few yards, from our stores and where possible no more than a 30 mile radius. When fresh produce is available it can be picked, packed and in the customer’s basket within hours.”

The society has drawn up a pledge to emphasise its commitment to local sourcing:

• To work with local producers to provide quality products and save food miles

• To provide members and customers with more choice by putting more local products on shelves

• To trade fairly and honestly with local producers

• To generate sustainable revenue for local producers and the society

• To fully vet suppliers to ensure they meet the society’s food safety criteria.

The scheme, which started in 2007, has been a hit with local producers. Ken Green, from Ken Green Fish in Clacton, said: “The support I have received from the society means I have been able to employ new staff, and this in turn has helped me to obtain a grant for new equipment to help my business continue to grow.” 

Robert Strathern, from Fairfields Farm, who grows potatoes in both Essex and Suffolk, said: “In 2009 we started supplying just three East of England Co-op stores, now we supply our potatoes and crisps direct to stores across the whole of Suffolk and Essex. 

“We are really pleased that our relationship with the East of England Co-op has proved so successful, and this has helped us to take on five new staff.”

Royston Owen, of Royston’s Traditional Bakery in Long Stratton, said: “The support of the East of England Co-operative is invaluable and it’s a fantastic organisation to deal with. They listen to what I say and take on board my ideas about which of my products will sell best in particular stores. It’s a team effort and we work together to achieve the best outcome for all of us; my bakery, the society, and our customers.”


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