By FWi staff

NORTH-WEST producers are benefiting from a scheme set up by Co-op United Northwest.

The supermarket chain has been using local suppliers to source an increasingly large proportion of its meat and fresh produce titled its “local and loyal” campaign.

Six suppliers in the three counties now have 85% of the societys meat business and the purchase of Australian and New Zealand produce has been stopped, said a Co-op spokesman.

This move has been welcomed by local suppliers, who have seen their business with the supermarket chain increase dramatically. The feedback that comes with the scheme is real benefit, said Marcus O Sullivan of Kepak.

Local farmers have also benefited from this policy, said James Holden, who farms 500 ewes at Haslington, Cheshire.

“It has enabled me to market my lambs locally as well as improve profits,” he said.

One Lancashire chicken supplier has gained an additional £1 million of business since the campaign was launched two years ago, and Preston lamb supplier has seen business grow twelve-fold to more than £4 million in 1998.

The supply of prepared vegetables, previously sourced from Lincolnshire, has been switched to Lancashire bringing more business to local suppliers, said business unit manager for fresh and frozen foods, Mark Owen.

“Buying more locally produced products, especially meat, fruit and vegetables, is absolutely right for our business. Not transporting across the UK, when products can be bought closer to home is also right for out customers.”