Foodservice giant 3663 is on the cusp of launching its first major range of locally sourced food, offering a much-needed boost for small producers.

From January, hundreds of new food products, many produced on-farm, will become available to 3663 customers in the region of production.

At first, only food from East Anglia and southeast England will feature in the initiative, said the firm, which is the UK’s largest supplier of food to the catering sector, from restaurants to pubs and schools.

But fresh produce buying controller Paul Willington said the initiative would soon be rolled out nationally, after strong interest among customers.

“If it is successful, we’d expect local food ‘heroes’ to have national appeal, so we are investigating new routes to market.”

Dairy ice-cream maker, Stephany Hardingham, of Alder Carr Farm in Suffolk said 3663 gave an important new outlet for her food.

“We are able to double out production with our current plant, but 3663 understand that small producers can’t just go from nought to 60.”

The Northeast of England and Wales will be scrutinised for local food producers next, followed by the West Country and Scotland.

But the company warned that it was not looking for primary produce. Except in Wales, a third party is sourcing and supplying the new products, and in East Anglia it is the Elvedon Estate, which already runs a thriving local hub for Asda.

Farmers or processors with a product they think 3663 might be interested in stocking regionally should contact Paul Willington on paulwillington@3663.co.uk.