As its name suggest, the Co-op has a long held tradition of working closely with its suppliers for mutual benefit. This ethos continues to be ingrained in the organisation’s DNA, as can be seen by recent initiatives, such as search for the ‘Small Producer of the Year’ competition, as well as the support it provides to its suppliers generally.
Earlier this year the Co-op teamed-up with the Quality Food Awards to launch the second annual search to showcase the quality and innovation of the nation’s smaller, local producers. It has since been working with finalists to help them to get their product in their local store as part of a package of benefits designed to provide a big boost to smaller businesses.
Sue Wade, Co-op’s Category Trading Manager for Local, Regional and Ethnic foods, said: “We know that food provenance, quality and trust are key for our customers and so we are proud to give local producers pride of place in our stores. It’s exciting to collaborate with smaller producers, it’s their innovation, quality, passion and traditions which ensures that their products are much loved locally.
“Backing local produce is about much more than just ‘hanging out the bunting’. The Co-op is committed to investing in local economies and providing new opportunities to put smaller producers on a bigger stage and, consumers are responding. We are thrilled to be working with the Quality Food Awards to unearth the finest small producers that our country has to offer and, to champion, showcase and celebrate great British food and drink – the search is on for the UK’s Small Producer of the Year, 2017.”
Jon Bates, National Account Manager for Enterprise Foods – which has worked with the Co-op on the delivery of its local sourcing programme, added: “The shift we have seen in consumer tastes is continuing and, there is significant potential for further growth in both the prominence and share of locally sourced produce – this is due in part to the change in preference toward trusted local brands and food provenance and, it is the strength of the relationships throughout the supply chain which is the key to unlocking this potential.”
The winners of the Small Producer of the Year Award will be announced at an awards ceremony at Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 9 November, but in the meantime the Co-op is continuing to help its suppliers in a number of ways…
Case Study – SJ, Director of Porcus (Todmorden, West Yorkshire)
“When our area was hit by severe flooding in December 2015, while we were lucky enough to escape the worst of it as we are located on top of a hill, many of our customers down in the valley weren’t quite so fortunate sadly and two of the stores we supplied to had to close. This meant that we were really up against it. In desperation we spoke to the Co-op and explained the dire circumstances we were in. They took our concerns on-board and in order to help us they rolled our products out into a number of other Co-op stores, which was fantastic.
“It felt easy to approach them, it felt natural. It certainly didn’t feel like I was asking them something that was impossible. In fact we were greeted with the utmost positivity and genuine assistance. This relationship is continuing to blossom and we’ve already increased the range we supply to them, which is great.”
Case Study – Andrew Pringle Managing Director of Wooden Hand Brewery (Truro, Cornwall)
“Our relationship with the Co-op is still in its relative infancy, having only been in place for six months or so, but to be part of such a large organisation is fantastic. We might be a Cornwall company but the Co-op is providing us with tremendous opportunities much further afield. They are huge supporters of the craft ale movement and it’s a great opportunity to work with a company that is so much more progressive than the other retailers out there. We’re currently supplying 40 Co-op stores in Cornwall but we’re keen to keep building on this presence throughout the whole of the south-west.”
Case Study – Simon James, Managing Director of Edwards of Conwy (Conwy, Wales)
“Since launching with the Co-op we have been able to reach a wide range of new customers. Often located in agricultural communities, many Co-op stores are essential in providing all the range you would find in a larger supermarket as well as being convenient. Accessing these customers who perhaps weren’t aware of the Edwards range has helped us grow our sales and allows us continue to invest in expanding the number of local staff we employ as well as our business capability. The Co-op’s passion for providing its customers with high quality locally produced foods at a fair price fits perfectly with our own long established heritage for being a highly skilled producer of quality meat products.”
For more information please visit: http://uk.qualityfoodawards.com/qf-2017/small-producer-entry