Southern Co-op expands Local Flavours range

New products from eight local producers are hitting the shelves of local co-operatives as part of Southern Co-op's regional food and drink range.

With two of the producers discovered during a special pitching event organised in Hampshire called the Pigs Den, the regional co-operative hopes its customers will enjoy the new Local Flavours offerings.

Products include local fish, ale, cider, drinking chocolate, protein balls, honeycomb and biltong and will be available in 85 different stores in Devon, Bristol and Somerset, Sussex, the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, Berkshire, London and Dorset.

Matt Elliott, Retail Buying & Services Manager who looks after Local Flavours at Southern Co-op, said: 'Sustainability is something we strive for and encourage people to consider when doing their shopping. These new products not only demonstrate these principles but are also of a high quality which adds a new diversity to the existing products in our retail stores.'

In Sussex, the new products are from Bedlam Brewery, The Fresh Fish Shop, and Tribe in association with Lorama Foods.

These will include Tribe's Choc Caramel & Almond Nature Bombs, Chocolate & Hazelnut butter Nature Bombs, White Chocolate & Berry Nature Bombs; Bedlam Brewery's Benchmark Sussex Best Bitter, Phoenix Extra American Pale Ale, Turtle Recall Pale Ale, Wilde East Coast Pale Ale; and The Fresh Fish Shop's Cod Garlic and Chorizo Bake, Smoked Mackerel Pate, Smoked Salmon Pate, and White Fish Thai Green Curry.

The Fresh Fish Shop's Master Fishmonger Sebastian Candelon, who is committed to sourcing only the best quality, sustainably-caught fish, said, 'The UK is really waking up to shopping locally, and we wholeheartedly support this ethos. Wherever possible we source our fish from UK shores, including from small day boats along the south coast - from Sussex all the way across to Cornwall - using low impact fishing methods.

'All of our produce is clearly labelled with information about how and where each fish is caught for complete transparency from sea to serve.'

In Devon and Somerset, the new products are from Taunton Cider and Dartmoor Brewery including Dartmoor Ipa, Dartmoor Legend Ale, and Dartmoor Jail Ale; and Taunton Dry Cider, Taunton Medium Cider, and Taunton Vintage Cider.

Karen Lunney, Operations Manager for Dartmoor Brewery, said, 'We're proud to use all products during the brewing process in an environmentally friendly way including all our spent malt grains being collected every week by an accredited local farmer to be fed to cattle, plus all excess yeast, drainings and spoilt beer are collected by tanker to be used in an anaerobic digester to generate energy.

'As the only brewery on the moor producing Dartmoor branded beer, we're passionate about preserving and promoting Dartmoor and its traditions, from working with local suppliers to supporting the community and protecting the environment. We are also committed to supporting good local pubs, community groups and events.'

Finally, the new products with strong Hampshire connections are Mighty Fine's honeycomb, Wholesome Wolf's biltong and Mortimer Chocolate Company's drinking chocolate.

Wholesome Wolf, which is based at Rogate near Petersfield, and Mortimer Chocolate Company, which is based one mile from Hampshire border, were the two which impressed the judges in the Pigs Den.

The special event was organised by county food group Hampshire Fare where 20 local producers ‘pitched' their products to Southern Co-op.

Kit Tomlinson, Owner and MD of Mighty Fine, which has its factory based on the Gosport/Fareham border, saidm 'We are working hard to build a really strong manufacturing base in Hampshire and have also made sure we focus on the climate with our factory being 100% powered by renewable energy.

'In 2014 we began creating handmade treats with great ingredients in a shop in Camden and now, we still make everything the same way with the same values.'