While many foods that fall under the speciality banner hail from Mediterranean countries - think stuffed vine leaves, olives, Iberico ham, French cheeses, the list goes on - many small speciality food companies are instead playing the British card to attract consumers.

British Food Fortnight, which runs until 8 October, aims to support such companies and is an attempt to reconnect Brits with the country's producers. Organiser Alexia Robinson says BFF aims to make the public, in particular the young, aware of the diverse food and drink produced in Britain as well as increase awareness of seasonal and regional produce.

Now in its fifth year, Robinson says that the previous year's activities led to an average increase in sales of 30% per participating store and 84% of new lines stocked for the fortnight continued to be sold after the event.

"The excitement around this year's event reflects the heyday that British food is enjoying. People are passionate about it, retailers want to stock it, pubs and restaurants are clamouring to put it on their menus and schools are making it central to their teaching."

The campaign has backing from both Budgens and Londis stores and 3,000 members of the Association of Convenience Stores, with BFF-branded promotions and sampling campaigns featuring heavily in stores throughout the fortnight. BFF branding is featuring on banners, hanging cards and shelf wobblers with special offers running on British products.

Ross Halliday, Budgens acting marketing director, says: "It's fantastic that we have been able to involve the Londis stores because it gives us a much wider platform to broadcast the British message. This event gives us a great opportunity to beat the drum for British."

Yet while some retailers are backing the fortnight, many of the larger players are more reluctant to get involved, says Robinson. "Asda is running a British promotion during BFF and Sainsbury's is doing something with British ready meals, but it is a great shame that the major multiples are not responding more to it. They like to have complete ownership of the promotion and possibly think that it is churlish to take part in something that their competitors are also doing."

She adds that the major multiples' antipathy towards the event has opened the door for medium-sized players and independents, which are offering a viable and imaginative alternative to the major supermarkets.

"Medium-sized retailers are using local and regional food as a point of difference. Large retailers have introduced some local lines but medium-sized retailers are offering more distinctive products." n