A loyalty scheme to promote the quality of Norfolk produce to the county's shoppers is being launched today, on Norfolk Day.

Eastern Daily Press: Konrad Maliszewski, postgraduate research student, and Nick Thornton from Sam's Local Shopper in Pulham Market. Picture: UEA.Konrad Maliszewski, postgraduate research student, and Nick Thornton from Sam's Local Shopper in Pulham Market. Picture: UEA. (Image: Archant)

Ten independent retailers from across Norfolk will be taking part in the six-month Shop Norfolk pilot project organised by the University of East Anglia, offering their shoppers free Norfolk produce as consumers build up loyalty points.

Once shoppers reach a set number of points, they can swap them for a free Norfolk product.

Andrew Fearne from UEA Norwich Business School said: 'This is a pilot research project to see if we can help bring together Norfolk food producers, retailers and shoppers. It's concerning that shoppers have no links with local food and drink producers, who are often just down the road.

'By taking part in the pilot we will be using the big-data approach of major supermarkets for the benefit of local producers – highlighting what produce retailers could be stocking which consumers would support. Shoppers will also benefit because they will be trying out great local produce they may have been unaware of before.'

Shopkeeper Nick Thornton, from Sam's Local Shopper in Pulham Market, said: 'I am always looking for good ideas to give people a reason to shop in my store. The loyalty scheme sounds like a great idea and I can't wait to get started.'

The pilot project sees UEA working with The Retail Data Partnership (TRDP) and its electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) data, Norfolk Food and Drink and Buy Local Norfolk.

Glynn Burrows, Chairman of Buy Local Norfolk, said: 'Buy Local Norfolk is extremely pleased to be involved with this initiative because it has long been known that buying from local independent businesses has a massive effect on the local economy.'

Norfolk Food and Drink director Colin Kiddell said it would promote products in stores 'at the heart of local communities'.

The retailers will be offered support from UEA with a retail audit, marketing materials and media support to drive footfall and sales.

Shoppers will be given a loyalty card, giving them rewards in the shape of local produce and money off when they shop. The results will be used to demonstrate the value of the 'buy local' scheme in Norfolk, and possibly to attract further funding to extend the scheme, informing the agri-food business network in Norfolk, Food for Thought.