110 local producers meet store’s buyers

NORTH-EAST food and drink could soon be available from Tesco stores.

NORTH-EAST food and drink could soon be available from Tesco stores.

More than 100 suppliers from North-East England and Yorkshire attended a roadshow earlier this month at Oulton Hall, near Leeds, to meet the supermarket chain’s buyers and show them the very best the region has to offer.

Companies such as Chain Bridge Honey Farm in Berwick, the Alnwick Rum Company, the Northumberland Cheese Company and Meat of Excellence, Morpeth, were among those flying the culinary flag.

And the buyers were reportedly delighted with what they saw. The chain’s head of local sourcing Emily Shamma said: “This was our best event yet in terms of quality of suppliers. It’s a real credit to North-East England and Yorkshire suppliers that the quality of produce we saw at this event was better than at any other to date.

“Our buyers were enormously pleased and we are tremendously encouraged that we will be working with a large number of the 110 suppliers who attended.”

Michael McCallum, business development manager for Northumbria Larder, said: “We know what great produce North-East England has to offer and we were absolutely sure that, given the opportunity, we could demonstrate that quality to others. Now it looks as though some of our producers have won over the UK’s biggest food and drink retailer.”

The suppliers should hear over the next few weeks whether the chain intends to stock their produce. Heather Robson, partner in the Chain Bridge Honey Farm, Berwick, said: “We have always been against putting our products into Tesco or any of the big supermarkets.

“We have a lot of local quality shops which we supply and we wouldn’t want to supply any supermarket which would put their existence under threat. Having said that if they are going to start stocking better quality honey then maybe it would be better for us to be in there.

“Supermarkets have traditionally stocked cheap imported honey from places such as China. But I think people are now realising that cheap honey just doesn’t taste as good.”

Sophia Brown, boss of Meat of Excellence , said: “I think these new big supermarkets will make or break the region. They just have so much power.

“For that reason I have some reservations about supplying them.

“If we do agree to supply them we will have to make sure the contract is right for us as well as them.”

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