The number of local lines sold in Tesco has risen by more than 40% in the past five years as consumer demand for regional produce grows.

The retailer carried just under 2,800 local lines in 2007. It now stocks more than 4,000 across the country - although this varies by season - and has a network of 500 local suppliers.

Working with eDigital Research, Tesco conducted a poll of 1,000 shoppers earlier this year to study changes in local produce shopping. It found 54% of people who shopped at Tesco were buying more local products then they were five years ago. This is 10 percentage points higher than November 2010.

Sales of local and regional food at Tesco exceeded £1bn in 2011/12, and it is preparing to roll out more sampling units for local products in coming months.

A growing number of products and ranges that started out as local lines are gaining wider national distribution. They include Scottish business Mackays, which is extending its UK listings with the launch of four Scottish fruit preserves into 700 stores next month, as well as three premium single farm jams into 650 stores.

A dedicated local food microsite launched by Tesco last year offered “tremendous growth opportunities”, said head of local sourcing Sarah Mackie, as shoppers became aware that local products could be purchased online as well as in-store. “Its big advantage isn’t just sales, but in raising awareness,” she said.

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