Buyers are reducing their carbon footprint by buying 40% more local products from a regional cooperative than five years ago.
The figures were released by Southern Co-op as it celebrates a milestone anniversary for its local food and drink line – 15 years of local flavors.
To mark the occasion, the local flavor team will be visiting a number of its regional producers to recognize the hard work that has made this possible. The tours kicked off last week with Kent Crisps and COOK.
Southern Co-op started working with Kent Crisps at the end of 2014 and has since grown into an internationally renowned British brand.
Laura Bounds MBE, owner of the award-winning Kent Crisps brand, said: “Southern Co-op has been essential to my business. In the beginning, it was Southern Co-op who believed in our brand and rapidly increased our number of stores, which allowed us to grow much faster. We are historically grateful for the support over the years.
“Southern Co-op has the best local team I’ve ever met. It has a lot to do with the support they show local vendors. They have always loved doing what they do. They totally believe in what they’re doing and that’s important.
“Southern Co-op gives local brands the opportunity for new exposure in new areas and leads the way with its unique vision. Celebrating 15 years is significant because at that time they really made a difference to a lot of people.
Southern Co-op’s Local Flavors range was first introduced in 2007 on the Isle of Wight and supports farmers and growers, bringing the best local food and drink from across southern England to its convenience stores .
It currently includes around 2,000 products from over 200 vendors.
In 2021, more than 3.5 million products were sold in its Local Flavors range, an increase of 40% compared to just over 2.5 million in 2017.
Matt Elliott, Southern Co-op’s Retail Buying and Services Manager, which looks after the Local Flavors range, said: “Southern Co-op’s enthusiasm for local food and drink comes from the incredible flavors , dedicated people behind the products and environmental benefits.
“As an independent regional co-operative, we strive to be a sustainable and responsible business and our Local Flavors range is just one of the ways we achieve this. Over the past 15 years, we’ve developed incredible relationships with our local flavor producers and uncovered hidden talent that has subsequently been stocked on shelves nationwide.
Each county where Southern Co-op trades has a range of bespoke local flavors that can include cheeses, yogurts, cream, ice cream, cakes and baked goods, sandwiches, meats, fish or beer.
On the Isle of Wight, Southern Co-op’s partnership with Briddlesford Farm Dairy provided local outlets for produce from their Guernsey breed cows after it became unsustainable to ship them off the island.
Paul Griffin, the fourth generation of the Griffin family to run the farm, said: “Working with Southern Co-op has meant a lot to us at Briddlesford Lodge Farm. Southern Co-op was able to see the quality and provenance of our products and was able to offer us access to a much larger customer base through their many stores.
“This was a great step forward for Bridlesford and ultimately allowed us to expand this aspect of our business considerably. This has given us confidence to work with larger clients and in turn has helped to preserve our family farm and iconic dairy herd on the Isle of Wight.
“Southern Co-op is different from other supermarkets because it has retained a ‘village’ type appeal, with a friendly approach to its local suppliers and to its customers.
“The ‘Local Flavors’ aspect of their business has benefited many small-scale farmers and vendors, but also empowered local people to support their local economy and the local businesses that enable their communities to thrive. »