Store hunts for a taste of the region

REGIONAL food and drink group Taste North East is working with supermarket multiple Waitrose to search out local producers.

Around half the regional food producers who attended a Taste North East-organised Meet the Producer event for Waitrose are a step closer to making it on to the supermarket’s shelves.

Taste North East, which supports businesses who grow, make, sell, prepare or serve food and drink in the region, selected 18 suppliers to showcase their products to Waitrose’s local and regional product sourcing team, Tracey Marshall and Oliver O’Mara.

“Local sourcing is incredibly important to Waitrose”, said Oliver O’Mara. “We currently stock more than 2,500 locally-sourced products and we find Taste North East’s expertise is invaluable when building upon this.”

Taste North East, which provides a raft of services for businesses, from accreditation, product testing and development to training and marketing, works with every section of the region’s food and drink industry from artisan bakers to hotels and restaurants.

A core role of Taste North East is working with businesses keen to place their products with buyers like Waitrose.

General manager Sandy Duncan said: “We spend a lot of time with businesses in the food and drink industry whether they grow, make, sell, prepare or serve produce.

“It means we are able to match suppliers to the right buyers, like Waitrose. It is through our depth of knowledge and understanding of local and regional producers and their products that we are able to put forward suitable suppliers to appropriate buyers.”

Producers through to the next round of the selection process include Proof of the Pudding, Alnwick, and Northumberland Cheese Company, Blagdon.

Suppliers will discover if their product will be stocked by Waitrose early next month.