Co-op launches accelerated support scheme for smaller suppliers with products from the first phase of innovative and values-led businesses hitting the shelves this month.
The incubator scheme, known as ‘the Apiary’, works with local, community and smaller-scale suppliers to offer tailored and dedicated support, mentoring and advice on all aspects of the product journey, including: industry and consumer insight; workshops; technical hints and tips and, access to the convenience retailer’s dedicated buying teams which enables suppliers to accelerate towards a retail listing.
The programme will see six new suppliers launch in store this year: Dapur Mariae; Scrapples; Superfoodio; Urban Rajah; The Woolf’s Kitchen and, the Wonky Food Co become the first to progress through the programme and gain a listing in approaching 200 Co-op stores.
First to launch this month (September) are: Scrapples who take ‘wonky fruit’ to avoid food waste and create healthy snacks which are 100% fruit with no added sugar, salt or fat. At under 50 calories per bag they are popular with parents as lunch box fillers for children and, they will supply Co-op with its apple; apple and mango and, apple and strawberry crisps. Superfoodio – run by husband-and-wife team Jag and Nirali Mankodi and supply Co-op with three of its varieties of Peanut Button Buttons which are 100% natural, plant-based, gluten free and do not contain palm oil or any refined sugar. And, The Wonky Food Co, who create great tasting chutneys and relishes, supplying its Chilli Tomato; Tangy Onion and, Zesty Lime relishes using imperfect and surplus fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste.
In October, Dapur Mariae – a winner of the Co-op sponsored Small Producer Award at the UK Quality Food Awards – will supply their Malaysian inspired Spicy Sambal Sauce and Curry Paste which are both vegan and gluten free and, The Woolf’s Kitchen, with Dominique Woolf – winner of Jamie Oliver’s Great Cookbook Challenge TV show and #1 Sunday Times Bestselling cookbook author. Influenced by Thai heritage and love of Asian cuisine, Dominique started her own business, The Woolf ‘s Kitchen, in the middle of the lockdown in 2020, and will supply: Chilli Crunch, Firecracker Paste and Nam Prik Pow! pastes and chilli oil.
While November sees the launch in store of the new ‘buroti’ range by Urban Rajah – Indian flat bread wraps packed full of fresh, fragrant and authentically spiced ingredients, including vegan Smashed Onion Bhaji and Chickpea in a beetroot roti style flatbread with wild rice, salad and a juicy spiced mango chutney.
Rebecca Oliver-Mooney, Co-op Head of Category – including Community Buying and The Apiary, said: “This is an exciting milestone for our incubator scheme. We know from feedback that innovation, provenance, quality and diversity is important to our Members and customers and we are delighted to partner with this inaugural group of businesses. We are committed to building relationships and supporting our suppliers, and our ‘Apiary’ programme is designed to quickly anticipate and, respond to, changing consumer tastes and needs in our communities. We offer access to the insight, guidance, technical knowledge and support to enable smaller-scale producers to accelerate towards a listing in store. These are all exciting and innovative producers, each with a real point of difference. Values-driven, they all offer something unique which I am confident will interest and excite shoppers – I am delighted to see their products on Co-op’s shelves.”