Potato supplier is Co-op county king

POTATO farm and crisp maker Fairfields Farm has been crowned the East of England Co-operative’s first Essex Source Locally Supplier of the Year by Society members and customers.

The Colchester-based farm supplies the society’s food stores with its Sourced Locally range of crisps as well as many varieties of potato.

Owner Robert Strathern sees the award as recognition for the high standard of work from its sales and production staff. He said: “We’re really pleased to have been recognised for the quality of our products. A lot of effort goes into home-grown produce and being a sourced locally supplier we offer the society full traceability, so its members and customers know exactly which field their potatoes were grown in.”

The Supplier of the Year Awards are aimed at celebrating the local producers from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex which supply products for the Co-op’s Sourced Locally range.

The overall regional winner Andrew Sturgeon of Lodge Farm in Hadleigh.

Having been selected as one of two county finalists for Essex by a panel of experts, Fairfields Farm narrowly beat Ken Green Fish Merchants from Clacton on Sea in a public vote to to scoop the Essex crown.

Robert Strathern receives a prize package worth more than �500 alongside the Norfolk winners, Pastry Cutters of Norwich.

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Fairfields Farm first became a Sourced Locally supplier for the East of England Co-op back in 2007 offering a range of crisps, before supplying potatoes to the Burnham store in Essex two years later. Today the farm supplies over 80 East of England Co-op food stores across Essex and Suffolk with many varieties of potato and numerous flavours of crisps.

Robert Strathern said: “Being a supplier for the East of England Co-operative has been beneficial in a variety of ways. They have helped us to develop new product lines particularly in fresh potatoes and pack sizes. Local employment has been secured and also increased with a team of 26 full time staff and a seasonal uplift to 35 when we are harvesting.”

“The East of England Co-operative has always been very receptive to talking about any new ideas and what to do to improve things. Rather than a supplier-buyer relationship it is much more a partnership, which is so refreshing when working with a supermarket. We really appreciate the East of England Co-operative’s continued support of our business”