At the recent ProRetail visitors were greeted by a farmer’s market style exhibition of 46 of the smallest most exciting local suppliers in the UK. It definitely had a big wow about it. There was literally an A to Y of very enthusiastic brand owners from Alibi, a ‘pretox’ soft drink created by Olly Bolton to Yummy Lollies who produce 100% real fruit ice lollies. These brand owners were exciting people to talk to and a handful stood out.

As a former Sussex retailer I was delighted to find the county well represented. We were early stockist of Bookham’s Fine Food’s range so it was great to find Rob Bookham at the show. His Sussex based company produces the award winning Sussex Charmer, a cross between cheddar and Parmesan, a vegetarian pasta cheese, South Downs butter, pasta and pasta sauce. For me Rob was the star of the show and clearly was a hit with Mary Portas as she singled him out in here presentation on Tuesday. Then he did look great in his bowler hat and tweed suit.

Horsham based WJ King Brewery were offering their range of best sellers and seasonal ales. Although they are a relatively new business, the King family have long history of brewing in Horsham. I met John Simpson, their business development manager who spoke with passion about their products and quality of ingredients that go into their ales.

The other Sussex producer was Montezuma’s they do chocolate with a difference. Their range is certainly in the luxury end of the market and they really do know about the cocoa and chocolate they use.

What I got from all the exhibitors in the Local Market was a great enthusiasm for their products and a passion for how they saw their relationship with their supply chain and customers. This was a great idea by Palmer & Harvey to showcase these regional small producers in this way at Telford. Bravo!

Sussex has Taste of Sussex and any interested retailers should contact Hillary Knight for details, hilary@sussexfoodnetwork.co.uk. Of course there are county and regional organisations to promote local food across the UK. If you want to stock your areas best produce start your search and let us know how good it is.