Co-op (00D)

Co-op is searching for a second wave of small food businesses to join its accelerated support scheme.

The scheme, known as The Apiary, focuses on working with local and community-based small suppliers to offer support, mentoring and advice on all aspects of the product journey.

Successful applicants for the initiative will be able to pitch their products to Co-op’s buyers, with the aim of seeing them stocked on the convenience retailer’s shelves.

The latest announcement follows a successful first year for the scheme, which saw six new food brands including Scrapples, Superfoodio, Urban Rajah and Wonky Food Co stocked in Co-op stores.

“This is an exciting time for our Apiary programme – the search is now on for the next group of businesses to join our accelerator scheme in 2023,” said Co-op head of category Rebecca Oliver-Mooney.

“Innovation, provenance, quality, value and diversity is important to shoppers, and we really are looking forward to hearing from new, exciting and innovative producers. Previously, the Apiary programme has worked with businesses which have created vegan, Indian, Malaysian and Asian-inspired recipes, and those with a focus on using ‘wonky’ fruit & veg to avoid food waste.

“Now we are keen to hear from more businesses with a real point of difference, who are values-driven and, offer something unique to interest and excite Co-op members and customers.”

Urban Rajah flatbread creator Ivor Peters said: “Being able to bring my food passions to a wide audience through the scale and reach of Co-op after working with its Apiary scheme is very exciting.

“I describe the products as the ‘taste of India in flatbread wrap’. They are inspired by Indian street food, packed with authentic flavours and, really easy to eat on the go – I am delighted that Co-op’s members and customers are now able to see and taste the results for themselves.”