Co-op Group adds six small suppliers to shelves after accelerated support scheme

‘Seeing successful new businesses hit Co-op shelves is always an exciting and rewarding time for our Apiary programme’

Six new suppliers have hit Co-op Group shelves following the retail society’s search for ‘small, values-led and innovative’ food and drink businesses to join its Apiary accelerated support scheme.

The Group said the Apiary scheme – first launched in 2022 –  looked for suppliers which shared its co-operative values and had a point of difference, “which would promote further diversity and inclusion” in its range.

The successful applicants, who will be stocked in 300 of the Group’s stores, received tailored support, mentoring and advice on all aspects of the product journey, working closely with the retailer’s buyers to develop the product towards a listing in store.

Post-launch support will continue, says the Group, wth access to sales trends and data, plus training and mentoring with industry leaders and sector specialists.

HumaniTea will supply vegan ready-to-drink tea lattes

The successful suppliers are:

  • Black Milk – which will supply its award winning Hazelnut Cream; Pistachio Cream and, White Chocolate sweet spreads. With a popular bakery and café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, its founders also support projects that tackle homelessness in the city
  • Blue Turaco – whose speciality Ugandan Robusta coffee supports and empowers small coffee-farming communities in Uganda by sourcing directly. Two products are to be listed, Robusta Ground Coffee and, Robusta Wholebean Coffee, with each purchase also helping to provide lunches to fight hunger in Ugandan village schools
  • HumaniTea – a social enterprise creating chilled ready-to-drink tea lattes, with its Cold Brew Matcha and Cold Brew Earl Grey stocked in Co-op stores. Brewed using oat milk it is 100% vegan with a percentage of the company’s profits supporting wellbeing and sustainability initiatives
  • Lo-cal – The light and cloudy beer brewed with fewer calories than other premium pales. An award-winning vegan pale with bursts of apricot, melon and peach. Lo-cal supports local sports clubs to help get people moving in their communities.
  • Revibed Drinks – superfood infused water with zero sugar and less than 10 Kcal per can it provides a refreshing alternative on-the-go, flavours to be stocked in Co-op are Passion Fruit & Ginger; Raspberry & Acai and, Peach & Hibiscus. With 1% of profits donated to CALM, which works to stand against suicide and save more lives.
  • Wilderbee Hot Honey – inspired by a sweet and spicy condiment in a New York Pizza restaurant. A version of the condiment was created when the founder returned to the UK using organic wildflower honey infused with fresh chillies. WilderKitchen supports sustainable bee keeping practices and communities, and will see two of its flavours, its Original and, Korean Gochujang, in store.

Rebecca Oliver-Mooney, the Group’s head of commercial for drinks, frozen, community buying & the Apiary, said: “Seeing successful new businesses hit Co-op shelves is always an exciting and rewarding time for our Apiary programme.

Two flavours of WilderBee Hot Honey will be stocked

“We have been on a fantastic journey with these suppliers throughout the year, which builds on the successful launch of our first wave of suppliers through the Apiary programme which has seen suppliers develop their product and brand and, gain permanent listings, including Urban Rajah’s buroti wraps which are soon set to become part of Co-op’s Premium Meal Deal offer.

“Going live in store is the beginning of the next chapter for the suppliers we work with, and the dedicated support which has enabled the businesses to create and develop their products towards a listing in store will continue post-launch. We are delighted to reach this key milestone where the products are on now shelf – we believe the suppliers all offer a real point of difference to interest, enthuse and excite Co-op members and customers in our communities.”

This is the second round of Apiary support, following an initial run which brought six suppliers brought on board. The search for the next wave of new suppliers for the Apiary programme is expected to start early next year.