Six of the region’s best loved food and drink producers are in the running to be crowned East of England Co-op Producer of the Year 2015 – with each now aiming to attract enough public votes to secure their place in the final.
With voting set to open on 3rd January, the Co-op’s Producer of the Year Awards showcase the quality and diversity of more than 140 growers and producers from Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk who contribute to its award-winning Sourced Locally range.
This year’s six outstanding local producers, judged on their achievements in product innovation, carbon cutting and staff development – plus what gives their business the ‘wow’ factor, are:
- Ken Green Fish of Clacton – producers of smoked and frozen fish,
- Fairfields Farm of Wormingford – growers and producers of crisps and potatoes,
- Norfolk Brewhouse of Fakenham – brewers of Moon Gazer real ales,
- Cornerways of Stokes Ferry, Kings Lynn – growers of tomatoes,
- Taste of Suffolk of Bury St Edmunds – producers of fresh sausages and cooked meats
- Hadleigh Maid of Hadleigh – producers of chocolate bars, mallow whirls and selection boxes
Kevin Warden – East of England Co-op’s Local Sourcing Manager said, “Our six shortlisted producers showcase the fantastic array of outstanding food and drink grown and made in East Anglia. Now we’re calling on our members and customers to get voting and tell us which great-tasting local products they’ve most enjoyed this year.“
Those with the most public votes will be announced as county champions and each will then face the prestigious panel of judges: Lady Caroline Cranbrook OBE – a tireless campaigner on rural issues; Galton Blackiston – Michelin starred Norfolk chef; Terry Hunt – editor of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ken Crowther, BBC Essex gardening presenter. The overall Producer of the Year will be announced at a Sourced Locally supper at Wherstead Park, Ipswich on March 19th.
Last year’s event, which received over 3,500 public votes, was won by Lane Farm Country Foods of Brundish near Woodbridge, who supply the East of England Co-op with sausages, bacon, ham, salami and chorizo.
Ian Whitehead, owner of Lane Farm said: “We were delighted to have been voted ‘Producer of the Year’. The support we got from our customers was overwhelming – so a big thank you to them.”
Since 2007 the East of England Co-op has put £25 million back into the regional economy, creating over 400 local jobs and protecting many more. In almost five years, its Sourced Locally range has grown from a few suppliers to over 140 bringing over 2,400 local products into stores – demonstrating just how important local suppliers and the Sourced Locally brand are to the Society, its members and customers.
Kevin added: “We work closely with our producers and the awards bring everyone together to celebrate and highlight their hard work and achievements over the year.”
Members and customers can vote online until 14th February – plus every East of England foodstore will host an in-store voting event to make it easy for local shoppers to get involved. Voters will automatically be entered into a free prize draw to win £100 of shopping vouchers.
To read more about the shortlisted suppliers and to vote for your favourites go to www.eastofengland.coop/2015producer