Just weeks after launching its initiative to recruit hundreds of new UK food suppliers over the next few years to cut its reliance on overseas products, Morrisons has revealed that over 500 small foodmakers have already signed up to be considered for a listing in its stores.
A number of these suppliers showcased their products to Morrisons’ buyers, customers and store staff as well as the local Womens Institute at the first selection event in Yorkshire yesterday. The range included local products, many from small or family businesses, such as cheeses, milk, and pork as well as innovative products like natural fruit vinegars, craft gins and gluten-free pies and pasties. Morrisons is hosting ten more regional events this summer.
Since announcing the search, Morrisons said it has been inundated by entries from food brands that have responded to its call for more British food makers in a bid to further boost British supply on shelves across its 491 stores.
The programme, named ‘The Nation’s Local Food Makers’, was started as a food report revealed that the UK exports £18bn of food, compared to £39bn of imports. It highlighted a growing appetite for local produce from British shoppers and demonstrated the potential benefits to Britain’s countryside of putting more local produce on supermarket shelves.
Morrisons aims add over 200 local suppliers in 2017 alone with Richard Jones, Food Quality Expert at Morrisons, commenting: “It’s been a promising start to our nationwide search. We’ve been impressed by the quality and innovation of the foodmakers who have applied.
“We hope to give many of these foodmakers an opportunity to grow their businesses and give our customers the opportunity to buy even more food made in their communities.”
At the event on Tuesday, Morrisons worked with members of the West Yorkshire Women’s Institute, drawing on their local knowledge and expertise to select the best suppliers in the count. Maureen Hancox, Chairman of the West Yorkshire WI Federation said: “We’re looking for those products that use fresh, local ingredients with sensible packaging and, of course, food that tastes amazing.”
Morrisons revealed that it had already sourced 178 local products since September 2015 and expects this summer’s search to boost this figure considerably.