The Southern Co-operative is looking to expand its local food & drink offer to more stores, having completed a roadshow to showcase its wares across 10 counties.

Its Local Flavours VW camper van provided free tasters at major food events and at Southern Co-op stores in counties from Kent to Devon during June and July.

This marked 10 years of the independent co-operative’s promoting of regional produce.

Its bespoke Local Flavours range is sourced from within the county sold. It includes seasonal fruit & vegetables, baked goods, craft beers, cheeses, meat and fish.

“Sourcing British food matters to us, not just because it contributes to the UK economy and employment, but because it’s important to our customers. In these uncertain times, it offers reassurance and builds trust in food security and sustainability,” said Southern Co-op chief executive Mark Smith.

“Southern Co-op has seen significant growth in its local food and drink offer. Sales have increased by 79% over a 10-year period to reach £5.2m last year. That growth is set to continue with the expansion of local into more stores, building on the 78 that now have a comprehensive local offer.”

Local sourcing manager Kate Hibbert added: “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 ethos as a co-operative.”