A source of help for local food and drink firms

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A BUSINESS which sources and distributes local food and drink to major supermarkets is expanding its services to cover the North of England.

The Locally Sourced Food Company, which is based in Thirsk, has grown to a £3m turnover business, working with more than 60 local suppliers, from small meat producers to breweries, carrying more than 250 local lines which it bulk delivers to supermarkets, namely Asda, which is headquartered in Leeds, and Tesco.

The company was established in 2007 by egg producers Yorkshire Farmhouse, before Amanda Peberdy and Rachel O’Brien joined in 2008, having been senior buying and supplier development managers with Asda. Both had young families and wanted more flexibility.

At the time, the business was turning over around £25,000.

Miss Peberdy, sales and marketing director, said: “Yorkshire’s full of really great food producers and drink producers, they make fantastic products, but they don’t have a real understanding of what is required to operate in the supermarket environment.

“I think sometimes supermarkets can get a bad name and are seen as the ‘meanies’ or the ‘baddies’.

“They’re not, they just operate in a very different way to a farm shop or a deli or a garden centre. Their requirements to do business are different and if you don’t know what those requirements are it can feel very tough and very difficult.

“The benefit for the food producers is that both Rachel and I have retail experience and we know how the supermarkets work, we have got as much if not more experience than some of the buyers we deal with, so we can talk to the buyers with quite a knowledgeable aspect. We can represent the producers to give them the best shot at sales.”

And it means that the supermarkets can source locally but with one delivery and one invoicing process rather than dealing with lots of little suppliers.

The Aagrah Group, based in Shipley, with 14 restaurants across Yorkshire, launched its retail offering into Asda and Tesco with the help of the Locally Sourced Food Company, while pickles business Shaws of Huddersfield, and Yorkshire Outdoor Pork also work with the firm.

While the company has so far mainly focused on Yorkshire, the next step is to expand its horizons to the whole of the North of England. “We are looking at the development of the North East with Asda and with Tesco their view is much more on a broader region than just Yorkshire, so we have the opportunity to do products in the North of England quite easily,” said Miss Peberdy.

Mrs O’Brien said people are becoming more and more interested in the provenance of their food and drink. “I think people passionately feel that they want to support the local and then the wider British economy.”

Her comments chime with the sentiments of the Yorkshire Post’s Buy Yorkshire campaign, which encourages businesses to “think local” whenever they need to buy goods and services to help small and medium-sized companies win valuable new contracts in the short term and strengthen the region’s supply chains in the long term.

Mrs O’Brien said: “But then I think there are a lot of people becoming more aware of what goes into the food they eat.

“There have been so many food scares over the last ten years that the idea of something local seems preferable.”

Miss Peberdy added: “I think local food producers genuinely do deliver a very honest product.”

The company, which is profit-making, employs five staff who are mainly part-time and it is owned by the Potter family, who are behind Yorkshire Farmhouse.