Essex crisp-maker Fairfields Farm wins crunch final of East of England Co-op Producer of the Year awards
- Credit: Archant
Essex potato growers who created a crisp-making diversification on their farm triumphed at a prestigious regional awards event last night.
Robert and Laura Strathern, of Fairfields Farm at Wormingford, near Colchester, were crowned the East of England Co-op’s Producer of the Year for 2016 at the retailer’s annual awards, celebrating the best of local food and drink across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
They collected their award in front of more than 200 fellow producers, partners and friends of the Co-op’s Sourced Locally initiative.
The fresh potato and home-cooked crisp producers made it through to the final round, along with Havensfield Eggs from Suffolk and Wendy’s House Cakes from Norfolk, after receiving nearly 4,000 votes from East of England Co-op members and customers.
The panel of judges, including East Anglian Daily Times editor Terry Hunt, food writer and marketing specialist Polly Robinson and chef Emma Crowhurst, selected Fairfields Farm as the overall Producer of the Year after meeting with the three finalists, with the criteria including innovation, performance and demonstration of true co-operative spirit.
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Fairfields Farm has been supplying East of England Co-op stores for more than eight years and this was its second time in the final round, having missed out on the top spot in 2015 to Cornerway’s Nursery in Norfolk.
Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “Following another exciting year for Sourced Locally, it was an honour to present Robert and Laura with their much deserved award. They’ve been truly supportive of the Sourced Locally initiative and are a great example of the genuine partnerships we strive to build with all of our local producers.
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“My congratulations also go to Havensfield Eggs, Wendy’s House Cakes and our runners-up who all received a fantastic number of votes from our members and customers this year and should all be very proud of their achievements. It’s down to all of our producer partners that Sourced Locally continues to be a success, giving our customers access to great local food and drink.”
Since 2007 the East of England Co-op has ploughed over £45.4million back into the regional economy, creating over 400 local jobs and protecting many more. Its Sourced Locally range has grown from a few suppliers to over 100, bringing thousands of local products into stores.