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Shoppers in East Anglia urged to support local food producers as regional vote begins

PUBLISHED: 01:01 21 January 2019 | UPDATED: 07:38 21 January 2019

The Cake Shop is a finalist for East of England Co-Operative's Producer of the Year Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

The Cake Shop is a finalist for East of England Co-Operative's Producer of the Year Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

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Voting has now begun to find the best local food producers across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk as part of an annual East of England Co-op competition.

Producer of the Year competition hopefuls Vernon Blackmore and Jamie Symons of Choose Spice  Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHYProducer of the Year competition hopefuls Vernon Blackmore and Jamie Symons of Choose Spice Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

In Suffolk, a bakery and a spice producer are set to go head-to-head in a competition celebrating locally-sourced heroes.

The team at Choose Spice, which operates from the Suffolk Food Hall at Wherstead, is up against The Cake Shop in Woodbridge, as they battle it out in the East of England Co-op’s Producer of the Year contest.

In Essex, jam producer Thursday Cottage and sandwich-maker Raynors will vie for the county title. Meanwhile in Norfolk, two breweries, The Norfolk Brewhouse and Woodforde’s, go head-to-head.

Voting opens on Monday, January 21, and runs until Thursday February 21. One winner will be picked from each county, before a panel of food and farming experts judge who will be crowned overall champion.

Producer of the Year competition hopefuls Matt Raynor and Karen Potten of Raynors  Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHYProducer of the Year competition hopefuls Matt Raynor and Karen Potten of Raynors Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

More than 28,000 votes were cast in 2018, when Maldon-based Wicks Manor – famed for its premium pork products – was crowned Producer of the Year.

Choose Spice is a relatively new business bringing exciting and exotic flavours to the dining table. Meanwhile, The Cake Shop is a family-run multi-award winning bakery with traditional roots and a long history.

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “The awards are a celebration of produce from across East Anglia – a region which is home to some of the most diverse and exciting products in the UK.

“From fruit and vegetables to meat, poultry and fish, we place a huge amount of emphasis on food provenance and a vast array of the products on our shelves are produced and packaged locally.

Producer of the Year competition hopefuls Pele Heydon and Leah Riley, Thursday Cottage  Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHYProducer of the Year competition hopefuls Pele Heydon and Leah Riley, Thursday Cottage Picture: RAE SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

“Producer of the Year aims to celebrate the success of these businesses and I would like to urge everyone to vote and show your support for the producers.”

Shoppers are encouraged to vote for one producer per county and in return, those who vote will have a chance to win £500 of vouchers to use in East of England Co-op stores.

To find out more about each of the shortlisted producers and to vote visit: www.eastofengland.coop/poty2019

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