East of England Co-op’s local sourcing scheme worth �15m to regional economy

AN INITIATIVE to source local food and drink launched by the East of England Co-operative Society in 2007 has so far been worth more than �15million to the region’s suppliers and producers, it has been revealed.

The Co-op staged a “Celebrating Local” breakfast event at its Wherstead Park headquarters near Ipswich in recognition of the ongoing success of the scheme, which saw 15 new suppliers officially welcomed on board.

A survey of the society’s 114 local suppliers across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex has found that, since the launch of the Sourced Locally initiative, it has led to the creation of more than 100 new jobs, as well as helping to protect hundreds of others.

And by generating sustainable revenue for local producers, the society’s support has also helped five local producers to apply for business grants from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The event included the presention to 15 new suppliers which have started working with the society in the last 12 months of accreditations to acknowledge they meet its Sourced Locally criteria.

Kevin Warden, the society’s local sourcing manager, said: “Our Sourced Locally initiative continues to go from strength to strength and we believe that it makes social and economic sense for us and our local suppliers. Our 114 local producers supply us with fantastic local products, which our members and customers love, and helps support the economy in local communities with the East of England Co-op at their heart.

“We are always on the lookout for new local products, and will continue to seek out quality local suppliers across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex to continue our local sourcing journey,” he added.

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The society’s Sourced Locally range features more than 2,000 products, including fruit, vegetables, beers, wines, bread, cakes, oils and preserves.