Egg, pig and potato farmers crowned county champions in regional food producer awards
- Credit: Rae Shirley
A free-range egg producer, a pig farmer and a potato grower are set to battle it out for a coveted regional food producer title after being crowned county champions.
Following a record-breaking year in which 28,638 votes were cast across the region by shoppers and members, the Suffolk champion in the East of England Co-op’s annual Producer of the Year awards has been revealed as Havensfield Eggs, while the Essex winner is Wicks Manor Pork and the Norfolk champion is Buxton Potatoes.
Havensfield, based at Hoxne, near Eye, and run by Alaistaire and Fiona Brice, beat Leiston’s Purely Pesto to take the Suffolk title.
Wicks Manor Pork, run by Fergus Howie at Tolleshunt Major, near Maldon, triumphed over Ken Green Fish Merchants at Clacton-on-Sea to win in Essex, while Buxton, run by Tim Briscoe, and based near Norwich, overcame Gnaw Chocolate of Norwich to win the Norfolk crown.
The total votes, which followed a Tremendous Tractor Taste Tour of the three counties featuring the six contenders, eclipses the 19,392 votes made last year, when Coggeshall-based Great Tilkey Honey took the overall Producer of the Year crown.
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Havensfield’s Fiona Brice said they were “delighted” at the result, Wicks Manor’s Fergus Howie said they were “over the moon”, and Buxton’s Tim Briscoe said they were “amazed and delighted”.
The county winners will now be visited by a panel of food and farming experts before the overall Producer of the Year 2018 is crowned at the annual East of England Co-op Supplier Supper on March 15.
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The regional retailer’s joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor congratulated all the regional winners.
“We have enjoyed a tremendous month of voting and all winners and nominees deserve a lot of praise for their hard work which has been rightfully recognised through the high numbers of votes seen this year,” he said.
“This competition is always a great way to encourage our customers to ‘think local’ and the record-breaking votes received reflects their passion to enjoy locally sourced food and support the producers who supply this fantastic produce.”
The chain’s Sourced Locally initiative has generated over £62m for the regional economy since launching in 2007.