23 Yorkshire breweries will now supply the Co-op as part of a scheme which was piloted in the county in 2015. The programme is now rolling-out UK-wide following the success of the Yorkshire pilot, starting with Lancashire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Avon and Somerset.
The Co-op‘s programme is designed to champion local produce and break down the traditional trading barriers that smaller businesses often face.
Charlotte Bleasdale, ranging manager for the Co-op in Yorkshire, said: “Our ambition UK-wide is to double the number of our local suppliers. From potatoes to pickles, and pies to pints, we now stock over 150 local lines across our 250 Yorkshire stores.
“Our approach sets out clear principles to foster closer relationships and support for local suppliers – we want these businesses to thrive and so we do not seek exclusivity for instance.“
She said innovation, tradition, quality and the passion of the producers create prized local products.
“We are delighted to give them pride of place in our stores. With our Hebden Bridge store for instance trialling a special bay which showcases all of the Yorkshire breweries involved, along with other great local producers such as the Hebden Bridge-based Blue Sky Baker.
“We know that food provenance really matters to our customers. Quality, trust and value are key for consumers. Backing local produce is about much more than just hanging out the bunting – Yorkshire food and drink is world-renowned and the Co-op is committed to investing in its local communities, providing opportunities to showcase, support and celebrate great Yorkshire food and drink.”
Ilkley Brewing Co now supplies its Mary Jane, Pale Ale and Rombald beers to the Co-op.
Director Luke Raven said: “We’re incredibly proud of the brewing heritage of our beautiful region.
“Co-op have long been champions of local producers and it’s great to see Yorkshire beer given such exposure. Our own beer sales have rocketed in Co-op stores this year, with over 50,000 bottles expected to be sold by the year end, accounting for approximately 10 per cent of Co-op’s sales of Yorkshire beers. It is an incredibly proud achievement for such a small brewery as ourselves.”
Leeds Brewery, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this month, will supply the Co-op with two of its award-winning brews: Yorkshire Gold, a light hoppy beer, and Leeds Best, its traditional best bitter.
Ed Sunter, regional sales manager for Leeds Brewery, said: “We take great pride in producing our beers and we are pleased to work with the Co-op which shares our passion for quality, locally produced products.
“We are often asked where our beers can be bought - the Co-op’s community orientated approach provides a great route to market, helping us to reach customers in areas where their local pub may not be selling our beers.”
In addition to beer, more than 150 Yorkshire products are supplied to the community retailer including eggs, milk, bread, ice cream, sweets, crisps, potatoes, pickles, chutney, pies, sausages and beer.
Todmorden-based Porcus is supplying homemade pork products and sausages to the Co-op.
Director Sarah Jane Clegg said: “When our area was hit by severe flooding in December 2015 we were really up against it. We spoke to the Co-op and explained the dire circumstances we were in. They listened and in order to help, they rolled out our products into a number of their other stores in the area, which was fantastic.
“It felt easy to approach them. This relationship is continuing to blossom and we’ve already increased the range we supply which is great.”
The Co-op is investing over £10m in Yorkshire this year by opening new stores and conducting a major makeover of existing stores.
Its newest store in the county is set to open this autumn in Nursery Lane, Leeds, and represents an investment of more than £750,000.
The Co-op’s five-point small business charter sets out clear principles to foster closer relationships and support for local suppliers.
It has pledged its support for British farming with a commitment to invest £2.5bn over the next three years into sourcing own-brand British meat, produce and dairy products from the UK.
In Yorkshire, it works with over 30 farmers across pork, eggs, beef and dairy. This is in addition to the local suppliers who provide more than 150 local Yorkshire lines to its stores.