With hundreds of locally produced food and drink products available in its stores, Southern Co-op is celebrating this year’s British Food Fortnight.

Now in its 20th year, the campaign kicks off on Saturday [18 September] and encourages people to seek out British food and drink which will in turn have an impact on sustainability and the action on climate.

In Southern Co-op’s convenience stores, the three top selling product ranges in its Local Flavours range are from Briddlesford Farm on the Isle of Wight, COOK foods in Kent and Curry on Wheels in Hampshire.

Matt Elliott, Retail Buying & Services Manager at Southern Co-op who looks after its Local Flavours range, said: “There were some highs and lows in 2020 for our local producers but overall sales of our Local Flavours range remain strong thanks to continued customer support.

“Through our dedicated Local Flavours range, we celebrate local food and drink from around 200 regional suppliers.

“Now is the perfect time to focus on the future so let’s use this year’s British Food Fortnight to continue supporting these local businesses and also try some of the incredible tastes available.”

So far this year, more than 230,000 individual products from Briddlesford Farm have been sold in Southern Co-op’s stores including cheese, milk and other dairy products.

Briddlesford Lodge Farm has an award winning Guernsey herd as well as an on site dairy processing building. It produces milk, cream, butter and cheese from their own cows, under the ‘Briddlesford’ brand, and fresh milk, cream and butter from other farms under the ‘Isle of Wight’ brand.

Paul Griffin, the fourth generation of the Griffin family to run the farm, explains there is a whole range of benefits when you buy and support local including reduced food miles and lower carbon footprint, enjoying the local countryside and preserving its natural beauty, freshness and provenance, safeguarding local jobs and supporting the rural economy.

Paul said: “Quality is of the utmost importance whether local or otherwise. Our dairy products, from Briddlesford, are all made right here on the farm, using the rich and creamy, golden milk from our beloved pedigree Guernsey cows. The flavour is unbeatable!

“Southern Co-op is a great partner in the promotion of local food, when it is not always easy for small, local producers to do this.”

A further 216,000 products have been sold from COOK which produces frozen ready meals, and 117,000 sandwiches, wraps and food to go products from Curry on Wheels Ltd.

Curry on Wheels started working with Southern Co-op in September 2017 and has an extensive range of lunchtime products trading under the name QuickBite. The products are prepared on site daily with fresh fillings using local food suppliers wherever possible for the raw ingredients.

Harmeet Singh, who started the business with his wife nearly 20 years ago, said: “Given these unprecedented times, the importance of buying local and buying British, has never been so high.

“We feel blessed to be able to work with such an amazing team at Southern Co-op. The entire team has been so supportive and I can say, without a shadow of doubt, our business would not have survived the global pandemic without them.

“We would also like to thank our customers. Without your support over the years, we would not be in the position we are in today. We are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

With 200 Co-operative Food stores across the South of England, the independent co-operative’s Local Flavours range is available at most of its convenience stores.

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