Sainsbury’s flags up British produce

Vegetable growers in the West Midlands are seeing their produce appear in local Sainsbury’s stores as a new local food range.

From now until the end of summer, seasonal vegetables like purple sprouting broccoli, courgettes and runner beans from local farmers will be promoted in 25 stores.

Union Jack stickers will feature alongside “Savour the Flavour” branding developed by regional food group Heart of England Fine Foods.

It has been jointly funded by HEFF and packer Mack Multiples and, unlike some regional branding, it stands up to scrutiny because the vegetables are all picked, packed and distributed within the region.

“Once people make the link between the product and the farms, it has an impact on sales.

We are also doing tastings and offering meal ideas to shoppers,” said a HEFF spokeswoman.

A similar project carried out with potatoes from the Midlands packed by Greenvale saw sales rise by as much as 50%.

Grower Martin Haines said the promotion would not boost farm-gate prices, but would still be hugely beneficial.

“If it is highlighted to the customer that these are local growers there should be an increase in sales.

If we can reach the public, they’ll realise it’s fresher.”

Dwarf bean grower Chris Simms of Red Star Growers said the project could also help educate Sainsbury’s by getting their buyers into the fields.

“Understanding the quality issues growers like Red Star have to overcome is so important.”

James Hallett, commercial director of Mack Multiples said anything up to 25% sales growth was achievable.

If it worked well he said the packer could roll local branding out in the 13 other counties it operates in.

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