“Local food is the new organic.” It was an uncompromising message from Budgens retailer Mark Richardson which drew a murmur of approval from the visitors to Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate in the Cotswolds. 

“The power of local food is absolutely huge. It amazes me that more retailers do not harness its force,” Mr Richardson told visitors gathered to mark the launch of British Food Fortnight 2007.

He explained how backing the campaign, which promotes the best of the country’s regional food and drink, lead to a 22% increase in sales last year in his store in Newnham, Gloucestershire.

Backing British Food Fortnight not only helps local farmers find a route to market, it’s also good for business and the community and educates children about food and how to prepare it.

“Think of the educational value if Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose invited local children into their stores to learn about food. It costs very little and the PR value is massive. What better way to enthuse children about British food and capture a new generation of customers.”

National celebration

Meanwhile, promotion organiser Alexia Robinson said that the sixth British Food Fortnight, which runs from September 22 to October 7, had grown to become the biggest national celebration of regional British food and drink. This year the organisers aim to encourage 9000 chefs to visit schools to help children learn about healthy, nutritious food and how to prepare it.

Last year’s campaign generated extra sales of food and drink worth £15m and reached 300m people. 24,000 pubs, shops and restaurants supported British Food Fortnight and 26,000 schools received information about how to include food in the national curriculum.

For more information about the event and four free self-help guides: Britain’s Regional Food & Drink Advice for Retailers & Caterers, Retail & Catering Case Studies, Putting the Ooo back into food – a Resource Pack for Schools and A Guide to Including Cookery within the National Curriculum, visit the Britsh Food Fortnight webiste. 

Watch out for a four page special feature on British Food Fortnight in Farmers Weekly May 18th  and online.