East of England Co-operative

Dairy Crest Rural Action Award, Winner 2013, Reaccredited 2014, 2015

By sourcing local products, the East of England Co-operative Society has transformed a rural business network of growers and producers in East Anglia, while increasing sales by more than £8 million over six years.

The East of England Co-operative has transformed a rural business network by sourcing local products, increasing sales by more than £8 million in six years.

Business impacts

  • Sales have increased from £1 million in 2007 to £9.1 million in 2012.
  • Improved brand reputation, positioning the East of England Co-operative Society as the region’s leading ethical, responsible retailer.
  • Stakeholder engagement opportunities, with the Local Sourcing Manager regularly meeting community groups, farming organisations and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Social impacts

  • The programme has invested £100 million into the rural economy of East Anglia.
  • £20 million has been paid directly to suppliers, creating 100 jobs.
  • The programme has helped 80% of producers to stay in business.

The Local Sourcing Initiative at a glance

East of England Co-operative Society logo

As an ethical, responsible co-operative business, operating in a largely rural area, we are proud to source products which are truly local. This transformational project has bought producers and consumers closer, created more than 100 local jobs and has ploughed more than £20 million into our rural regional economy.

- Amanda Long,
Executive Officer, Membership, Marketing and Media
As a local independent and responsible retailer, the East of England Co-operative Society wanted to rekindle the connection between its customers and the sources of their food, giving them the choice to buy food from local producers.

The Local Sourcing Initiative began in 2007 to source products directly from local suppliers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

The company now has 129 local suppliers and is increasing the number of local products it stocks from 50 to 2,000. A range of these products is stocked in each of the retailer’s 134 food stores and forecourts.

The majority of the 2,000 products travel directly from supplier to store, within a 30 mile radius, reducing food miles.

Thorough assessments are carried out on each supplier, including checks to ensure items are genuinely produced locally. 

We were won over by the vision, passion and commercial acumen of this story. It has created a fantastic viable society that has had a genuine positive impact for local farm businesses, and in turn the local community. The simplicity of the programme is undeniable, and the judges would love to see it rolled out across the co-operative movement."
Mike Sheldon, Group Milk Procurement Director, Dairy Crest Group and Chair of the judging panel.