East of England Co-operative attended a House of Commons showcase to raise awareness of its local food range.
The society was invited by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell to show off its Sourced Locally range at the Eastern Promise event, which featured the work of Foundation East, which provides finance and support for enterprises starting up or looking to grow in the region.
Sir Bob said: “I have been hugely impressed with the positive impact the East of England Co-op and Foundation East have had on the economic prosperity of the eastern region.
“In providing growers and producers with routes to market and business support, we’re seeing job creation, business expansion and innovation across the region. It’s remarkable that, through Sourced Locally, the Co-op has ploughed over £34m back into the region’s economy and Foundation East has helped over 500 businesses start up and grow.
“I’m delighted to be able to showcase these successes to my fellow MPs.”
Sourced Locally, which launched in 2007 to bring locally produced goods to the shelves of its 135 food stores, now boasts 140 growers and producers who supply over 2,750 local products. Sales turnover has grown each and every year and, to January 2015, reached £14.6m. To date, over £34m has been ploughed back into the region’s economy through payments by the Co-op to its local suppliers.
Roger Grosvenor, executive officer for retail at the co-operative, said: “Eastern Promise presented a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about our outstanding local producers and the amazing food and drink our region has to offer.
“Sourced Locally is a true example of co-operation in practice – we trade fairly with all of our suppliers to ensure they are well supported, receive fair prices and are paid promptly. By working co-operatively we are ensuring local businesses and the region’s economy can grow.”
Foundation East is a membership organisation that lends money to business owners across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and neighbouring areas, offering loans up to £100,000to both start up and growing enterprises. Every £1 spent by Foundation East provides £15.68 of benefit to the regional economy.
Sourced Locally suppliers from across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk joined the East of England Co-op and Foundation East to take part in the event and give MPs the opportunity to taste the flavours of East Anglia. They included Hillfarm Oils, Hadleigh Maid, Lane Farm, Scarlett & Mustard and The Taste of Suffolk all from Suffolk; Cornerways Nursery and The Norfolk Brewhouse from Norfolk and Ken Green Fish and Fairfields Farm from Essex.