Sir; I would be the first to agree with Prince Charles that the rural economy needs boosting, but I fear his campaign to get the supermarkets to stock local produce could backfire badly and damage many local stores. I have run the only grocery outlet in a village in Sussex for a number of years and we have always used local suppliers for things such as milk and eggs. But as the supermarkets in surrounding towns began to take more of our general trade, and I could not compete with them on price, I tried to source as many local products that the supermarkets did not stock as possible. I found my customers liked to support their local products, and didn't mind if they were more expensive than the mass-produced rivals because they were fresher and tasted much better. We have built a reputation for our products and we even find that we are attracting customers from outside the village because they have got a taste for a line they cannot get anywhere else. But if the supermarkets begin to source more of their products locally, our one point of difference begins to disappear. And we will be competing with them on two fronts ­ not only for customers but for suppliers too. Customers will see locally produced goods in supermarkets ­ massively hyped no doubt ­ and because their overheads are a much smaller percentage of their turnover, the prices may well be lower too. And suppliers will be wooed by supermarket buyers no doubt offering to take a large chunk of what they can produce and leaving little for local retailers. And if what I've heard from some growers is true, suppliers may get a nasty surprise when their produce is returned because it failed some quality test, or they are screwed to the ground on price. Prince Charles should be supporting village shops instead of the supermarkets that are doing so much to destroy rural life. Name and address supplied {{LETTERS }}