Pride of the east in food producers awards
15:48 14 February 2014
Archant Â© 2014
A poll of customers and members last month took place to find the county champions.
Three judges were invited to the co-op headquarters at Wherstead Park, near Ipswich – Local food campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook, Suffolk farmer William Kendall and the EDP’s agricultural editor, Michael Pollitt.
The overall regional winner of the East of England Co-op’s Sourced Locally Producer of the year, which also wins a £10,000 prize, will be announced at a dinner at its headquarters on Thursday, March 20.
Over 3,500 votes were cast online, by post and in-store in the annual awards to celebrate the quality and diversity of more than 130 growers and producers supplying the Co-op’s ‘Sourced Locally’ range.
Kevin Warden, East of England Co-op’s local sourcing manager, said: “This year we received more votes than ever, which just goes to show how much our customers value the opportunity to buy local from those dedicated growers and producers who have such a passion for good quality food.”
Since 2007, the co-op has put £20m back into the regional economy, creating over 100 local jobs and protecting many more, and in year to January, Sourced Locally sales grew by 30pc.
Norfolk - Tim Briscoe, Buxton Potato Company; runner-up, Tim Mack’s Yare Valley rapeseed oil.
Suffolk - Ian and Sue Whitehead, of Lane Farm County Foods, Brundish, near Stradbroke; runner-up, Havensfield Eggs.
Essex - Rossi Ice Cream; runner-up, Great Tilkey Honey.
Farmer Tim Briscoe, of Dudwick Farm, Buxton, said: “We now pack the potatoes the same day they are delivered. This has kept freshness and quality and resulted in an increase in orders,” said Mr Briscoe.
Lane Farm Country Foods supplied Brundish back and streaky bacon – all hand-cured, and its Suffolk Salami and Suffolk Chorizo.
Ian and Sue Whitehead, who started the business in 1987, started supplying the co-op in 2007. They now have four full-time and five part-time members of staff, including their daughter, Rebecca, who now looks after areas including promotion and new product development.
As pig producers, their welfare-friendly system ensures that a quality carcase is produced, which is the raw material for their range of ham, bacon and pork products.
Mr Whitehead, said: “We do everything for real – we rear our pigs at Lane Farm; they are then slaughtered locally and returned to Lane Farm, where we butcher, cure, smoke, cook, air dry and pack the bacon, sausages, ham and salami after which we deliver our produce directly into local co-op stores.”
“Our motto is we are only as good as our last sausage. We were one of the first people in the country to produce salami commercially and we are now looking at working with other local producers to produce a sourced locally pizza.”
Rossi Ice Cream, which has been made at Southend near 1932. Joint managing director Colin Gray, who bought the business about seven years ago, started supplying the East of England Co-op in 2009.
The business employs 10 full-time staff and also took on two new apprentices last year – one learning how to make ice cream and the other in sales and administration.
Developments this year included supplying 500ml tubs of mixed boxes to stores, which enabled more flavours to be stocked.