Where can I buy some of the Cotswolds’ finest produce?
- Credit: haylesfruitfarm.co.uk
Discover some new local producers and get your fill of old favourites at the new Warner’s store in Upton-upon-Severn
When I first got into local foods back in 2006, it’s fair to say that it hadn’t really become a buzz word like it is today. Back then it was a complete revelation to me, sitting with supplier after supplier after supplier whom I knew little about, let alone that they delivered such stunning products, all made here in the Cotswolds. I remember thinking how amazing it would be to sell these products to people as they did their weekly shop, and, equally, the suppliers were thrilled that they would be stocked in our first Warner’s Supermarket in Broadway. It was a match made in heaven.
We’ve just been through the same exercise in preparation for our new store opening in Upton-upon-Severn at the end of May, and the experience has reinvigorated in me what local foods are all about. Nowadays, most of us are aware that there is an Aladdin’s cave of great local food out there, but to actually dig in and unearth a load of new treasures, you get a whole new sense of excitement about how vibrant the sector in the Cotswolds is.
There’s no doubt that the Cotswold food scene has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and in a good way. Local suppliers have, as a collective, become very savvy commercially about how to get their products to market. When we were first doing it in 2006, it was sometimes difficult for local suppliers to make their voice heard and to get a place at the table to sell their products. Now, with the internet and demand driving people to stock local, they’re on a completely different playing field, which is to all our benefits.
We used to joke back in the day about ‘great product, no packaging’. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if the packaging isn’t up to scratch, it’s often tricky to sell. Over the years, I have worked closely with some of our local suppliers to help redesign their branding and packaging, even to the point of helping them get a barcode. These days, it’s our local suppliers who could teach us a thing or six about how to market product!
Thanks to the way the world is now, the local food scene is stronger than it’s ever been. In our Upton store, we will have the privilege of working with 71 suppliers from across the Cotswolds and surrounding areas. Product will range from meat and cheese to chocolate and ice cream, to ciders and ales and everything in between. Some of these will be suppliers we have worked with from the outset, like La Parisienne Bakery, Godsell’s Cheese, Fatherson Bakery, Hayles Fruit Farm and the Cotswold Pudding Co. But there are plenty of new discoveries that we’re equally thrilled to be on board with.
I’ve always maintained that just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. The only qualifier for me commercially around local foods has always been, how good is it? Well, I can personally vouch for every single one of the local suppliers we have on board in our new store.
Just like when we first turned the stone back in 2006, today it’s no less personal and exciting to discover and work with so many amazing producers. This is who we are, this is what we do, and we’re excited to be doing it again in Upton. Customers love it, local producers love it and we love working with them both. It’s like Groundhog Day but in a good way!
Warner’s Upton-upon-Severn opens on May 26. Find out more at warners-stores.co.uk
Warner’s Supermarkets is the headline sponsor for the 2022 20th Anniversary Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards. Visit foodawards.cotswoldlife.co.uk to nominate in any or all of the categories.
Warner’s Taste Club celebrates the best of local food and drink in the Cotswolds. Members receive food and drink news, plus money-off promotions, and invitations to exclusive events, tastings and competitions. Join for free at warnerstasteclub.co.uk