Waitrose has been trialling a range of branded regional produce in East Anglia and tells Farmers Weekly that the move has paid off handsomely.

The branded fruit and vegetables have seen significant sales growth since their launch at the end of 2005, according to Waitrose’s regional buyer, Graham Cassie.

“The reaction has been very positive, and shoppers have been delighted to see it.

Sales have been very good so far and exceeded our expectations.”

The new lines, which are grouped together in a relatively large 4ft display, have increased overall category sales, rather than just displacing unbranded sales, he added.

The farmers supplying the Cox apples and vegetables do not receive more for the produce, but they do benefit, he insisted.

“It names the farms that produce comes from, so farmers receive direct feedback.”

Waitrose plans to roll out a similar produce-based regional branding initiative in the West Country and in Yorkshire, but the potential is limitless, said Mr Cassie.

“We can do it everywhere we’ve got enough produce and growers.”

Several supermarkets, including Asda and Tesco, have also put local branding on some vegetables.

But Waitrose has the broadest campaign and was rewarded last year when sales of local and regional produce grew 65% to more than 10m.

Andrew Long, a Bury St Edmunds arable farmer whose face appears on bags of his potatoes in local Tesco stores, challenged all supermarkets to do more with local produce.

“It is an excellent way of promoting British food and definitely promotes sales in store.

I often get stopped in the street by people who enjoyed my potatoes.”