Village stores stand up to supermarkets

EVEN chef Gordon Ramsay has heralded east Suffolk's food producers and small shops for showing how businesses can thrive in the face of supermarket-obsessed Britain.

EVEN chef Gordon Ramsay has heralded east Suffolk's food producers and small shops for showing how businesses can thrive in the face of supermarket-obsessed Britain.

And there was further proof of the area's burgeoning food trade on Saturday when another village store opened a delicatessen counter - bucking the national trend of such services dwindling.

Campsea Ashe Village Stores will source most of its produce - the likes of meat, vegetables, cheeses and jams - from local suppliers.

It is this philosophy which was highlighted in a report released last year showing how east Suffolk had maintained such a successful food chain while others had faltered.


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Sharon Hurren, who runs the Campsea Ashe business with husband Stephen, said the “local” factor meant something to customers.

“It does appeal to people. We have people who come from surrounding villages. We are just concentrating more and more on local produce,” she said.

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The new deli was opened by Lady Caroline Cranbrook, from Great Glemham, who has spent years championing local shops.

After carrying out eight years of research in east Suffolk, she produced a report last year - published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Plunkett Foundation - highlighting how shops and local producers could blossom if they linked-up.

In the eight year period, the number of local and regional food suppliers in the area rose from 300 to 370, with a wider range of products being sold.

And the number of shops stayed the same at 81 in that time - bucking the national trend of decline.

Lady Cranbrook also led a delegation to London to tell MPs there was a stark choice facing the country - either have more supermarkets, or have more local food, shops and jobs linking people with the places and landscapes where they live.

The message won widespread support, including that of top chef Gordon Ramsay.

Lady Cranbrook welcomed the opening of the Campsea Ashe deli, adding: “Our local shops are immensely important - they are the glue that binds communities together and they are the eyes and ears of the village.

“East Suffolk is becoming a good haven, famous for its local food.”

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