Six new suppliers are set to hit Co-op shelves this week, following the convenience retailer’s search for small food and drink businesses to join its accelerated support scheme, The Apiary.
Including fairly sourced Ugandan coffee Blue Turaco, cloudy vegan beer Local, and vegan ‘superfood’-infused water brand Revibed Drinks, these suppliers will see their product sold on the shelves of up to 300 Co-op stores.
It follows the first wave of businesses which joined the Apiary scheme in 2022, including Scrapples, The Woolf’s Kitchen and Urban Rajah. Their products hit Co-op shelves last autumn and winter.
The search for the second series of businesses to join its Apiary programme began at the start of the year. Co-op said it wanted suppliers with a point of difference and shared co-operative values, as it looked to further promote diversity and inclusion within its range.
The applicants received tailored support, mentoring and advice on all aspects of the product journey, including industry and consumer insight, technical hints and tips, and access to the convenience retailer’s dedicated buying teams.
Post-launch support will continue, including access to sales trends and data, plus training and mentoring with industry leaders and sector specialists.
“Seeing successful new businesses hit Co-op shelves is always an exciting and rewarding time for our Apiary programme,” said Rebecca Oliver-Mooney, Co-op’s head of commercial for drinks, frozen, community buying & the Apiary.
“We have been on a fantastic journey with these suppliers throughout the year, which builds on the successful launch of our first wave of suppliers through the Apiary programme which has seen suppliers develop their product and brand an, gain permanent listings, including Urban Rajah’s buroti wraps which are soon set to become part of Co-op’s premium meal deal offer.
“Going live in store is the beginning of the next chapter for the suppliers we work with, and the dedicated support which has enabled the businesses to create and develop their products towards a listing in store will continue post-launch.
“We are delighted to reach this key milestone where the products are now on shelf. We believe the suppliers all offer a real point of difference to interest, enthuse and excite Co-op members and customers in our communities.”
The other suppliers who have joined are Black Milk, Humanitea, and Wilderbee Hot Honey. The search for new suppliers to join the Apiary programme is expected to commence in early 2024.