A host of Northumberland food producers could soon see their wares on shelves in Waitrose stores.
Regional food and drink group Taste North East is working with the supermarket multiple to search out local producers.
And following a special Meet the Buyer event, eight Northumberland-based food firms have been chosen to go through to the next phase of the selection process.
Those who have taken a step closer to making it onto Waitrose’s shelves are:
- Gilchesters Organics’ home milled flour from Hawkwell
- The New Zealand Gourmet Pie Company from Corbridge,
- Hexham-based Munch Company’s chocolate brownies
- Border Homebake of Haltwhistle’s flapjacks, choc caramel shortcake, honey crumb crunch, peppermint crunch and chocolate biscuit tiffin
- Wagu beef from Northumbrian Quality Meats at Hexham
- The Chain Bridge Honey Farm from Berwick
- Various cakes and desserts from Alnwick firm The Proof of the Pudding
- The Northumberland Cheese Company’s goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses produced at Blagdon just off the A1
Two firms from County Durham have also made it through to the next selection round. They are Embleton Hall Dairies from Wingate and cake and pudding makers Jenkins & Hustwit from Barnard Castle.
In all 18 suppliers were chosen by Taste North East to showcase their products to Waitrose’s local and regional product souring team, Tracey Marshall and Olivia O’Mara.
Olivia said: “Local sourcing is incredibly important to Waitrose. We currently stock more than 2,500 locally-sourced products. We work hard to ensure our stores have a fantastic selection of local produce and, especially with our plans to increase the number of branches, we are always looking to uncover local gems that our customers will love.”
Taste North East, which provides a raft of services for businesses, from accreditation, product testing and development to training and marketing, works with every section of the region’s food and drink industry from artisan bakers to hotels and restaurants.
A core role of the group is working with businesses keen to place their products with buyers like Waitrose.
General manager Sandy Duncan explained: “We spend a lot of time with businesses in the food and drink industry whether they grow, make, sell, prepare or serve produce.
“It means we are able to match suppliers to the right buyers, like Waitrose. It is through our depth of knowledge and understanding of local and regional producers and their products that we are able to put forward suitable suppliers to appropriate buyers.
“Not only do they have to meet rigorous demands for quality, safety, quantity and consistency, a key aspect of supplying to Waitrose is, of course, provenance and traceability. For Waitrose, we help them seek out producers for whom provenance is melded into a recipe and product with ingredients that are local and unique.
“A product is not necessarily local just because it is made in a region. This is what Waitrose are looking for and this is where we’re able to help by putting forward like-minded suppliers whose products might not necessarily be found on other supermarket shelves.
“Waitrose were looking for products containing local ingredients, made to traditional recipes by people with strong ties to their local communities.”
Tracey Marshall said of the nine products she saw four would probably make it on to Waitrose’s shelves.
Suppliers will discover if their product will be stocked by Waitrose early next month.