The East of England Co-op are hosting Sourced Locally Fortnight (1-14 June 2015) as part of its ongoing commitment to promote local food and we will be some of the local co-op stores doing tastings and talking beer: Le Chateau, Unthank Road, Norwich – Thursday 4 June 6.30 to 8.30 pm; Briston Co-op – Thursday 11 June 6 to 8 pm; Cromer Road Co-op, Norwich – Friday 12 June 6.30 to 8 pm and Sheringham Co-op – Saturday 13 June 12 noon to 2.30 pm.

Latest figures from YouGov show that despite 85% of adults across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex stating that it’s important that people in Britain buy locally sourced produce; only 35% have actually bought any in the last week. The research was commissioned by the East of England Co-op, which is launching Sourced Locally Fortnight.

Local produce is already a fundamental element of the Co-op’s strategy. Since 2007 it has run an award winning Sourced Locally initiative that brings local produce direct from around 140 farmers and producers to its shelves. As well as cutting food miles, reducing waste and boosting quality, the initiative has resulted in over £34 million invested back into the regional economy.

“This research confirms just how important locally sourced produce is. During Sourced Locally Fortnight we want to shine a spotlight on the great produce available across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. We know many of our customers love buying local and we want to encourage even more people to try something produced locally,” comments Roger Grosvenor, Executive Officer – Retail, East of England Co-op.

“We know what an amazing impact locally sourced produce has had on our business and for our suppliers – we now want to encourage even more people to try it! This week, if we could encourage every household across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex to swap just one product they regularly buy for a local alternative it could plough an extra £2 million into the local economy.”

During Sourced Locally Fortnight the East of England Co-op will be offering an enhanced range of locally sourced produce in its stores throughout Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. For the first time the Co-op will only stock locally sourced potatoes, strawberries and asparagus across every store. Shoppers will also be able to buy locally sourced key staples such as eggs, ham, sausages and cooking oil; plus other delicious items including chocolate and cookies. In addition Co-op will boost its in-store experience with information on local producers and opportunities for shoppers to taste local produce and find out more.

Roger Grosvenor concludes: “We’re delighted with the progress Sourced Locally has made over the past eight years. Whilst we appreciate there is still a lot more that can be done, in the last year alone we paid an impressive £9 million to local producers and we’re pleased that every year more producers are keen to join us on this exciting journey.”