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East Anglia: East of England Co-op launches Producer of the Year Award 2015

12:33 25 July 2014

Sue, Ian and Rebecca Whitehead celebrate their success at the East of England Co-op

Sue, Ian and Rebecca Whitehead celebrate their success at the East of England Co-op's Supplier Supper

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The East of England Co-op has opened for entries to its Producer of the Year Awards 2015.

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The independent retailer is calling on all its 140 Sourced Locally suppliers in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk to take up the challenge which last year saw more than 3,000 votes cast by customers and members of the East of England Co-op in support of their favourite local producers.

Kevin Warden East of England Co-op’s Fresh and Local manager said: “Now in its third year, these annual awards showcase the growing diversity and quality of our growers and producers who contribute to our Sourced Locally range.

“More and more of our customers want to know where their food comes from, so our Producer of the Year Awards are a great way to spread the message that the East of England Co-op is leading the way in in bringing customers great tasting, local food, drink and more - direct from growers and producers in the region – helping to keep their pound local.”

Last year’s event was won by Lane Farm Country Foods of Brundish, which supplies the East of England Co-op with bacon, sausages, ham, salami and chorizo from home reared Suffolk pork.

The East of England Co-op is currently experiencing its highest Sourced Locally sales to date. Last year it surpassed its turnover target by reaching £12million and this year is working to an ambitious target of £15m.

Since 2007 the East of England Co-op says it has ploughed £25m back into the regional economy, helping to create around 400 local jobs and protecting many more.

In almost five years, its Sourced Locally range has grown from a few suppliers to 140 bringing more than 2,400 local products into stores.

Once all the entries are in, a judging panel will select a shortlist of six - two local producers from each county of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Each will be selected on their achievements in innovation, environmental impact and staff development, as well as what gives their business the ‘wow’ factor.

Customers will get the chance to vote for their favourite producers in the New Year. Those with the most votes in each county are crowned County Champions and go forward for judging by an elite panel of food and farming experts to vie for the prestigious Producer of The Year 2015 title.

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