At the heart of the local sourcing movement are hundreds of small companies perfecting a range of products as close to handmade as most commercially made food can be. The Speldhurst Sausage Company, near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, was founded in 1988 by Kevin Walters, a deli owner. From 200lb of sausages sold from his shop, the business now turns over more than £500,000 a year. Walters first persuaded Tesco to stock the sausages in six stores. The company now has listings in more than 40 and Sainsbury's has just listed them in three Kent outlets. "The supermarkets have been fair with pricing ­ not trying to beat us down as many people might think. They are all selling at the recommended price which means the same as our smaller retail customers," says Walters. He stresses there are no real obstacles to dealing with the multiples, but offers simple advice. "First of all, don't put all your eggs in one basket. We've managed to keep all our van sales customers. The supermarkets do want things when they want them but there's no reason to be frightened of approaching them. We found slow persistence to be the best policy without getting in their way," he says. St Peter's Brewery is based in Suffolk. Md George Wortley began discussions with supermarkets a couple of years ago. The St Peter's range is now stocked in selected Tesco, Waitrose, Safeway and Sainsbury's stores. "All the supermarkets set down very strict deadlines. Not meeting them is not an option ­ but in return we have increased our production levels quite dramatically. They also negotiate very hard on price but in return they are able to give substantial volumes," he says Wortley says key to the operation is the fact St Peter's can deliver to regional distribution depots. Fudges Bakery is a Dorset operation specialising in what it calls "moreish, niche and premium products". Ten years ago the business was a traditional baker finding it increasingly difficult to compete profitably. Stephen Fudge took the decision to attack a bigger market from a more premium platform and turned it from a £150,000 loss to today's £3m operation. Fudge says he first attracted attention from the multiples at exhibitions and trade shows but he has also managed to maintain a hold on his smaller clients. "At first they were superficially annoyed we were stocking supermarkets but there has been a huge increase in consumer awareness of the brand and all our wholesalers have shown a massive increase in return from our products." However Fudge says despite the success with Sainsbury's and Waitrose, the company did not fare so well as part of the Somerfield/FFB initiative and had to pull out. "For us it was not logistically viable. They only wanted quite a low number of each product that had to be delivered on separate pallets at different prices per pallet. All of these things were eating away at our margin." {{COVER FEATURE }}