Focus on local during British Food Fortnight Photo: Local Flavours

With around 200 local suppliers and 200 stores stocking local products, a regional co-operative is encouraging people to buy local during British Food Fortnight.

From 19 September to 4 October, Southern Co-op will be shouting about a range of products which are part of its Local Flavours range.

With local suppliers and convenience stores in 11 different counties across the south of England, products range from eggs to milk and chocolate to top tipples.

Southern Co-op’s most popular suppliers* are:

  • Briddlesford Lodge Farm, on the Isle of Wight
  • COOK, in Kent
  • Hunt’s Foodservice, in Dorset
  • Wessex Country Gammon, in Dorset
  • Curry on Wheels, in Hampshire
  • Wilton Wholefoods, in Wiltshire
  • Claytons Eggs, in Hampshire
  • The Tomato Stall, on the Isle of Wight 
  • Curd & Cure, in Kent
  • And Lorama Foods, in West Sussex

Matt Elliott, Retail Buying & Services Manager who looks after Local Flavours at Southern Co-op, said: “As a regional co-operative, it is important to us to be able to offer our customers the option of buying products which have been made or grown in their local communities.

“There are some absolutely fantastic products and some incredible success stories. During the pandemic, we also saw local producers working incredibly hard and filling the gaps when products such as eggs were in short supply at retail stores across the country.

“We’d like to thank all of them for their efforts and encourage as many people as possible to continue supporting them long into the future.”

One of the Local Flavours success stories is Curry on Wheels based in Southampton. The number of Southern Co-op convenience stores which stock the lunch time products has recently increased to 87.

Trading under the name of QuickBite, the increase will support Harmeet Singh and his wife who started the business 18 years ago from a small home kitchen in 2002.

Harmeet Singh said: “In a few years we established our roots as one of the largest Food To Go suppliers in a large part of south east England and currently employ 15 staff members.

“We offer a delicious range of wraps, baguettes, pastas, salads and more which are freshly made daily on site by our fully trained staff and we take pride in our quality and service.

“We joined the Southern Co-op group three years ago in September 2017 and feel blessed to be working with amazing people. The Southern Co-op team has always been very supportive especially during these critical times we all have been facing.”

QuickBite’s top selling products at Southern Co-op’s stores are southern fried chicken baguettes, chicken and bacon baguettes, falafel with houmous vegan wraps, Mexican chilli chicken wraps and southern fried chicken wraps with chipotle sauce.

In Kent, Southern Co-op continues to support COOK frozen hand-prepared meals which are being launched in a further 10 stores in 2020.

COOK products are now in 48 of the co-operative’s stores since the partnership was first formed in May 2016.

The company was founded in 1997 by Edward Perry and Dale Penfold, who wanted to cook and sell frozen meals that would look and taste as good as homemade.

They’ve clung to this founding principle and Southern Co-op works closely with them to ensure that the range is selected for the right store and customer demographic.

The most popular COOK product is a Lasagne al Forno for two, followed closely by Beef Bourguignon, Chicken Alexander, and Classic Fish Pie.

Another success story is Montezuma’s, who started working with Southern Co-op in December 2012. The company celebrated its 20 year anniversary at the end of August.

Southern Co-op was one of the first to support the launch of Montezuma’s new eco packaging as part of its rebrand. Leading the way in the industry, Montezuma’s packaging is now 100% recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. This is all part of its commitment to doing business properly and making sure all ingredients are ethically sourced and chocolate is produced sustainably.

The full range is made in a little factory in West Sussex and currently available in 74 of Southern Co-op’s stores across nine counties. Bestsellers include Fitzroy 90g – 74% cocoa dark chocolate, peanut butter 90g – 35% cocoa milk chocolate with a peanut butter truffle centre, and milk buttons 180g – 38% cocoa milk chocolate buttons.

To find out more about the Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours range, visit www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/food/local-flavours/.