27 November 2003 | David Arminas
Prince Charles has urged small food suppliers and retail buyers to work more closely together to give consumers a greater choice of local produce.
He told a London gathering of 100 buyers, small suppliers and agencies that he has noticed a "genuine desire" among retailers to develop a local sourcing policy.
"I detect a healthy competitive spirit now as retailers vie to provide the largest range of locally sourced produce."
But he said buyers and suppliers must co-operate to overcome their problems.
He was speaking at the launch a major local sourcing "how to" guide that spells out in a step-by-step way how local producers can understand what influences retail buyers to choose a local product.
"Opening the Door for Small Business" outlines the steps small producers can take to ensure that retail buyers seriously consider them as local suppliers.
Sections include understanding the retailer's buying processes and department functions, as well as how to sell into national chains and food-service companies.
"Many local suppliers find it difficult to develop their product or find the right market, requiring new skills, and it can still seem confusing to those starting out," said Prince Charles.
Keith Edwards, purchasing controller for pub and restaurant chain Mitchells & Butlers, said the free guide also appears to be a good tool for retail buyers.
"It should put local sourcing more in the forefront of our minds so we can build up a business case for change," he said.
* The guide is available from Business in the Community on 0870 600 2482 or from its website at www.bitc.org.uk/rural