East of England Co-op has won a regional award for its Sourced Locally initiative.
The East Anglian Daily Times Business Award for Food and Farming Excellence went to the co-op for its commitment to supporting local producers and bringing local goods to its stores.
The awards, presented in Ipswich on 10 July, celebrate the contribution to the East Anglian economy of food producers and the food supply chain. They are sponsored by the Suffolk Agricultural Association.
The judges said: “East of England Co-op has developed a local brand and is working with more than 140 local food and farming suppliers, which in turn has created employment. It has taken a strong, sensible and ethical business approach in developing this local strategy and the network of suppliers has had a secondary benefit in that it has created additional distribution service to support other retail outlets, restaurants, etc, and is providing economies of scale.”
Since Sourced Locally launched in 2007, East of England has ploughed more than £25m back into the regional economy and supported the creation of around 400 new jobs in the region. The range now extends to more than 2,000 products from 140 suppliers across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Sourced Locally sales increased 31% in the last financial year, bringing Sourced Locally turnover to £12m that year.
A recent survey showed three quarters of Sourced Locally producers believe the initiative has positively impacted on their financial performance.
Jason Whittleton, local and fresh foods specialist at East of England, said: “We’re proud and delighted to receive this award in recognition of our commitment to local sourcing. Its thanks to the dedication and quality of our 140 local suppliers that Sourced Locally has been such a success and, of course, our members and customers who every day are putting local products from Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk into their shopping baskets.”
Sourced Locally was also a finalist in the national 2014 Grocer Gold Awards and received a Business in the Community ‘Big Tick’ as part of the Responsible Business Awards 2014.