co-op shoreditch

The Co-op has vowed to double its number of local suppliers to 1,200 by the end of 2017.

Coming as part of a five-pronged plan to “foster closer relationships” with small businesses, the Co-op will also stop seeking exclusivity deals and share technical and practical expertise.

In addition, the group pledged to create longer-term deals with suppliers and to avoid “expensive and duplicate audits” with universal accreditation for food production, legislation and labelling.

Retail chief executive Steve Murrells said the initiative, which comes as part of the Co-op’s strategy to back British produce, which would give local food “pride of place on our shelves”.

“We know our customers care about the provenance of their food and are keen to champion British products wherever they can,” he added.

Food minister George Eustice gave his backing to the scheme. “From family-owned microbreweries to local vegetable suppliers, small businesses are the heart of our food and drink industry,” he said.

“It is great to see a major retailer like the Co-op supporting local suppliers and producers, bringing a real boost to communities around the country.”