Following a successful trial in Yorkshire, the Co-op is to roll out a nationwide scheme to stock local products in its stores.
The Yorkshire trial involved more than 50 local manufacturers who provided Co-op food stores with locally produced goods such as eggs, baked goods, ice cream, sweets, chutneys, pies, sausages and beer.
The Co-op said the trial was a huge success and the scheme now offers more than 150 local lines across Yorkshire. The Co-op is also working with more than 30 Yorkshire farmers who produce pork, beef, eggs and dairy in the county.
The firm said its members are keen to encourage innovation with local products and following the trial in Yorkshire, the programme is now being rolled out to every county in the UK.
The Co-op said local sourcing of produce is a cornerstone of its food strategy and it is committed to “celebrating, supporting and championing locally loved produce”.
Over 20 Yorkshire breweries now supply the Co-op and it is estimated that Yorkshire breweries will tap into annual sales of more than 500,000 pints this year.
Simon Dryell, head of local sourcing for the Co-op, said: “Local produce is made with a mix of pride, innovation, history and passion to deliver consistently great quality and taste.
“The Co-op is committed to celebrating and supporting local producers. It is an area where we see continued sustainable growth as consumers increasingly seek provenance and trust locally.”
He said that one size doesn’t fit all for smaller producers, so the firm is keen to break down the barriers.
“We want these businesses to thrive in our communities and so we don’t seek exclusivity for instance – our ambition is for our stores to be at the heart of local life, connecting communities together and offering great quality products,” he added.
One of the most popular Yorkshire suppliers is Todmorden-based Porcus, which supplies the Co-op with homemade pork products and sausages.
Porcus director Sarah Jane Clegg said: “When our area was hit by severe flooding in December 2015 we were really up against it.
“We spoke to the Co-op and explained the dire circumstances we were in. They listened, and in order to help, they rolled out our products into a number of their other stores in the area, which was fantastic.
“It felt easy to approach them – it felt natural. This relationship is continuing to blossom and we’ve already increased the range we supply which is great.”