Isle of Wight 10th birthday celebration for Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours

Celebrating ten years of supporting local British food and drink producers, the Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours VW camper van, which is travelling across ten southern counties this summer, will make two special stops in the Isle of Wight, where its support for local producers first began in 2007.

Teaming up with Isle of Wight producer The Tomato Stall, the Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours team will be handing out free tasters to the public on Saturday 25 June at their Freshwater store and will also be at The Royal Isle of Wight Agricultural Show at Northwood near Cowes. The Isle of Wight’s only Michelin starred chef Robert Thompson will also be using their tomatoes in his live food demonstration at the Show at 2pm on Sunday.

Paul Thomas, director at The Tomato Stall said: “We have worked with Southern Co-op since 2008, starting with local branches on the Isle of Wight. Now this has opened up to Hampshire and Sussex with the view that we can continue to grow. We value Southern Co-op’s support and collaboration greatly – together we bring variety, freshness and a clear provenance to the retail sector.”

“The Tomato Stall creates new varieties of tomato every year, continually seeking to create the best flavours possible and Southern Co-op sells on our punnets, so customers can enjoy surprisingly special flavours at the same price as a normal mini-plum tomato.”

Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours camper van started the Local Flavours Roadshow in Lenham in Kent on Saturday 10 June, followed by Reigate in Surrey on 13 June, Windsor in Berkshire on 15 June, Southbourne in West Sussex on 20 June and Hayling Island in Hampshire on 22 June. After the Isle of Wight, it will go on to visit Frome in Somerset and Exeter in Devon.

“We work closely with our producers and suppliers and value the relationships we have built over the years. It is these relationships which enable us to offer our customers some of the best produce available in the counties in which we trade. We share our suppliers’ passion and enthusiasm and delight in being able to support our local food producing communities”, said Kate Hibbert, Southern Co-op Local Sourcing Manager.

“It all began in the Isle of Wight in 2007. There was an appetite for locally produced goods and this is where our Local Flavours range was born. Our sales on the island have grown consistently year after year as we continue to work with longstanding partners alongside seeking out new and exciting opportunities. The island has a fantastic climate for growing and residents who are truly supportive of their community, we now sell products from around 40 suppliers at our stores across the island.”

“We are very proud to have done this for ten years and our Local Flavours campaign aims to encourage people living in the ten counties across the South to support their local producers. We are also offering discounts on local food and drink in our stores during the campaign so that people can try new things.”

In a ‘spot the Local Flavours camper van competition’, Southern Co-op is also giving away some unique local foodie experiences as prizes to people who post the best pictures of the van on its journey across the region on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #LocalFlavours.

The Local Flavours arm of Southern Co-op’s business supports farmers and producers, bringing the best local food and drink from across southern England to their stores.

Community support is fundamental to the business ethos of Southern Co-op. This includes working with an increasing number of local food and drink producers who supply the ‘Local Flavours’ range in selected stores.

Every county where Southern Co-op trades has a bespoke Local Flavours range sourced from within county or bordering counties, available in selected stores. This may include cheeses, yogurts, cream, ice cream, cakes and baked goods, sandwiches, wine, chutneys, preserves, seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, juices, beer (the range varies by store).

Southern Co-op organises outings for their members to visit suppliers of the Local Flavours range to give an insight into local food production and the company’s support for local food producers.

Continued Kate Hibbert, “As an independent regional retailer in southern England, it’s vital that we play a pivotal role in supporting local food producers and the rural economy; this is very much part of our business ethics as a co-operative.”

Find out more on Twitter @TheSouthernCoop or Facebook @southerncoop

#LocalFlavours Campaign Tour:
Saturday 24th June – Freshwater, Isle of Wight – The Tomato Stall
Sunday 25th June – Isle of Wight Agricultural Show
Tuesday 27th June – Sturminster, Dorset – Olives et Al
Thursday 29th June – Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire – Wilton Wholefoods
Saturday 1st July – Chewton Glen, Hampshire Food Festival launch
Tuesday 4th July – Frome, Somerset – Thatcher’s cider
Thursday 6th July – Exeter Rd, Devon – The Crusty Cob