Producers of locally sourced foods are to be offered a cut-price accreditation scheme to make it easier for them to supply supermarkets.

Salsa (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) is designed as an alternative to BRC accreditation.

Drawn up by the NFU, the BRC and FDF, it costs £450 plus VAT - half the price of the BRC scheme.

"With the increasing demand for locally sourced food, there has long been a need for an assessment process for smaller companies that cannot afford the full BRC standard," said NFU food adviser Alice Pattinson.

The accreditation scheme, which is launched on 19 March, involves a half-day audit by inspectors. Any supplier who fails an audit will lose their £450 and will have to reapply for a second assessment.

The groups behind the scheme said that the "demonstrable assurance" the new accreditation scheme would offer to buyers would offset any anxieties some suppliers might have about losing money on unsuccessful audits.

Pattinson added: "We are hopeful the scheme will lend itself to the approval of more Red Tractor suppliers at a local level."

The scheme will be operated by the Institute of Food Science and Technology in England and Wales and by SFQC in Scotland.