Sales of locally sourced food soars as shoppers savor home cooking

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Demand for locally sourced food and drink has soared in recent months according to local retailer East of England Co-op, with sales of their Sourced Locally range up £1.1 million compared to last year.

Following the introduction of Coronavirus restrictions in March, shopping habits changed dramatically, as consumers around the UK stayed at home under lockdown rules, shopping locally and spending more money on food and drink. According to the market research firm Kantar, sales of groceries rose nearly 17% in the three months to mid-July, with local and online shops accounting for the majority of this growth.

As well as shopping local, consumers have also turned to locally sourced food and drink during lockdown. In a recent report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), findings highlighted a clear move towards supporting local suppliers, with 35% of those asked saying they were purchasing more produce made locally.

The East of England Co-op, as the region’s largest independent retailer, recorded a significant rise in sales of its Sourced Locally range, with purchases of eggs from Suffolk supplier Havensfield Eggs up 71%, flour from master millers Marriage’s rising 454% and pork from Essex farmer Wicks Manor up 118%. In total, this surge in demand has resulted in a sales increase of £1.1 million on the East of England Co-op’s Sourced Locally range compared to the same period in 2019.

Sourced Locally was introduced in 2007 to bring local produce to the East of England Co-op’s shelves. It has since generated millions of pounds for the region and helped to create and protect hundreds of local jobs. The initiative now partners with over 110 local suppliers across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, between them supplying 2,000 product lines to East of England Co-op Food stores across the region.

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op said:

“Our customers have loved our local range for a very long time. It’s one of the things we’re known for in our communities. The Coronavirus crisis has seen our members and customers get behind our Sourced Locally partners with even more gusto. Whether it’s ingredients for an evening meal, baking supplies or treats to bring comfort at home during a difficult period, our local food and drink has truly been appreciated over the past few months. Behind every product on our shelves is a passionate local team of producers or farmers, who have been working around the clock to keep food in our baskets.

Our members and customers value traceability, sustainability and quality and I believe this strong demand for regional produce will continue. We thank our communities for their support and look forward to building on our shared success with our Sourced Locally partners.”

Fergus Howie of Wicks Manor said:

“Since we became a Sourced Locally partner in 2010, the East of England Co-op has been one of our biggest supporters. In recent months, we’ve worked hard in collaboration with the East of England Co-op to increase our production to meet demand. It’s been busy, but it’s very satisfying to know our products are being enjoyed by people in our communities during this challenging time.”