Food groups represent big bucks for retailers. FFB says the speciality premium food sector alone is worth £3.6bn in annual sales. The multiples believe local and regional food groups provide a valuable service and FFB food groups now supply products to every major multiple. Safeway communications director Kevin Hawkins says: "There is a role for intermediary groups to explain the market and the realities of supplying big multiple retailers. Would we make more use of these groups going forward? Yes." Sainsbury's regionality manager Jane Wakeling says FFB groups have linked it with suppliers through its supplier development programmes, meet the buyer and meet the supplier programmes. FFB group Taste of the South East brought Wakeling together with local producers, showcasing their wares at the South of England Show. Taste of the South East chief executive Sue Scott says: "I felt there was a genuine desire from Sainsbury for the products and Jane and I are working towards further shows and bigger ideas." Waitrose clinched a supply deal with local producers in the south of England earlier this year to supply selected stores. The deal was negotiated with the help of FFB regional food groups such as Taste of the West and Taste of Anglia. {{FEATURES }}