Says: I do not stock any locally sourced food or drink products in my store as I do not think there is much demand for them. I have certainly never been asked by any of my customers for locally sourced goods.
To be honest, if I wanted to start selling local goods I do not really know where I would go to get them or what type of products to stock - and I do not think I am alone in that.
Like so many things in life, it all comes down to education, and I suspect that the majority of small independent retailers only have a very basic idea of what local sourcing actually entails. There is certainly not enough information out there to support smaller independent retailers if they wanted to branch into this area.
If I knew more I might be interested as I have heard that local pies are quite popular in this area, so that could be something worth looking at.
I know that Parfetts stocks a limited range of local produce and that the Stockport depot is planning to source more lines in the future, so maybe I might look into this at a later date.
Charlotte Lawson Food From Britain
Says: All the statistics show growing consumer demand for locally or regionally produced quality food, so it has to be an advantage for retailers to stock it.
I would advise independent retailers to contact their regional food group to find out more. Food From Britain is also here to advise. We run a website, www.regionalfoodanddrink.co.uk, which provides information on more than 3,000 quality food products across the UK.
Some areas hold farmers' markets fairly regularly and they provide a great opportunity to meet suppliers. But you can't always rely on them having everything you're looking for and they are really more for consumers than for trade.
The other thing is that there's no point in setting up your stall and not telling anyone about it. You'd be daft not to have a marketing message. You could build a reputation that spreads for miles by stocking regional food. Talk to producers about what marketing materials they have or produce a handmade leaflet about the products you're stocking. Local media is very important, particularly if you're running promotions.
Debbie Coxon Heart of England Fine Foods
Says: The first thing a retailer looking at stocking locally sourced products should do is contact a regional food group such as HEFF.
We would arrange to visit them to discuss what they were looking for and carry out a recce of their store. We remove the hassle of sourcing locally, acting as facilitators. We would identify the appropriate categories and producers and then suggest a 'meet the buyer' day, which includes 30-minute presentations by producers. The buyer would be able to talk about issues such as distribution, pricing and the recommended prices for products. These events are very targeted. We wouldn't put producers in front of retailers if their products didn't suit their retail offering.
Regional food groups could help organise store promotions, tastings and PR for products.
HEFF also runs a scheme called Savour The Flavour, offering grants of up to £1,500 to list new suppliers. The cash could be used to select refrigeration equipment or shelving units to display new products. We work with every type of retailer, from farm shops and forecourts to convenience stores.