Local producers hailed in annual awards from East of England Co-op

The awards went to family firm the Taste of Suffolk and the society’s own Woodbridge store

This year’s Sourced Locally Awards from East of England Co-op include honours for family business Taste of Suffolk and the society’s own Woodbridge Supermarket.

The awards – decided exclusively for the first by customer and member votes – recognise the efforts of local producers and society colleagues, and this year take into account the efforts taken to meet the unprecedented demand during the pandemic.

The winners were announced via surprise visits from East of England’s joint chief executive, Roger Grosvenor.

Mr Grosvenor said: “It was a privilege to present this year’s winners with their Sourced Locally Awards. Their awards represent an unwavering commitment and passion to providing our customers with the highest quality food and drink through a period of unprecedented challenges.

“What’s fantastic about this year’s awards is that the winners were chosen by the communities that our local producers and colleagues have worked so hard to support. It’s lovely to see them being celebrated by our customers and members.”

The Taste of Suffolk is a third-generation family business based in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, and has been producing sausages, bacon and cooked meats for more than 40 years. In response to demand for barbecue products during lockdown, the firm launched a new range of burgers.

Managing director Chris Simons said: “It’s a real honour and privilege to receive this award on behalf of the company and all the staff that have really worked hard. Their commitment and effort during the lockdown to produce the products has helped us win this award. It’s been a massive boost to our business working with a company that has a like-minded ethos and the same values, it’s really helped us thrive.”

East of England’s Woodbridge Supermarket in Suffolk was named Store of the Year because of colleagues’ hard work promoting and supporting local suppliers. The team likes to visit local sites, such as strawberry and asparagus fields, to gain as much knowledge about local products as possible.

Customer service assistant Shirley Pierce said: “Receiving this award means the world to me and to all my colleagues here who have worked extremely hard to get this award. The steps we’ve taken to support local suppliers is that we always order in large quantities, and we sell large quantities. People in the town and surrounding areas come here specially for locally sourced items because it hasn’t had to travel 100 miles and the quality is marvellous.”

The East of England Co-op works with approximately 100 local producers through its multi-award winning Sourced Locally initiative, which has generated millions of pounds for the regional economy since launching in 2007.