Supermarket support for Norfolk and Suffolk food and drink producers

Dozens of food and drink producers in Norfolk and Suffolk have been given a trading boost after being stocked on the shelves of a regional supermarket chain.

A host of suppliers are benefiting from sending their produce direct to more than 200 East of England Co-operative stores in the region.

And the local produce has been given more prominence in Norfolk following the unveiling of the chain's 'Sourced Locally' branding across the county.

The suppliers, which includes local fruit and veg merchants, bakers, brewers, ice cream makers and seafood companies, get to put their goods on the shelves using their own packaging. But shoppers will find it easier to spot local products with the new hanging boards and labelling that is being fitted into the company's stores.

The scheme also looks to slash food miles by placing local produce in supermarkets within a 30 mile radius.

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Kevin Warden, local sourcing manager for the East of England Co-operative, said more than 100 regional suppliers and 2,000 products had become part of the scheme since it was launched in 2007 and the supermarket was looking for more producers to join.

'This initiative not only promotes local products to our customers, it also makes a real difference to the region's producers, helping them increase sales, generate sustainable revenue and in some cases enabling them to take on new staff. Sales levels for locally sourced products are far ahead of expectations clearly demonstrating to us that this is something that our customers want,' he said.

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The Norfolk initiative was launched at the Co-op supermarket in Long Stratton today along with local partners Royston's Traditional Bakery, of Long Stratton, Gnaw Chocolate from Brooke, and Yare Valley Rapeseed Oil from Surlingham.

The supermarket has established its own accreditation to ensure that all food safety criteria is met and the provenance of products is assured.

Royston Owen, from the Long Stratton bakery, said: 'The support of the East of England Co-operative is invaluable to my business and it's a fantastic organisation to deal with. They listen to what I say and take on board my ideas about which of my products will sell best in particular stores.'

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