Retail chain postpones annual celebration of local food producers amid virus fears

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive of East of England Co-op Picture: GREGG BROWN

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive of East of England Co-op Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A great annual gathering of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex food and drink producers has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus crisis after it was postponed to a later date.

East of England Co-op bosses said they felt it would be 'irresponsible' to proceed with its Supplier Supper - due to be held on Thursday, March 19, at Wherstead Park, near Ipswich - in light of the developing situation.

Joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor has written to guests to inform them of the bad news about the much-anticipated annual bash - which culminates in the crowning its Producer of the Year.

MORE - Boost for region's food producers as they reap rewards from European trade show'Given the developing situation with Coronavirus, we have decided to postpone this year's Supplier Supper,' he explained.

'Many businesses are taking steps to limit large gatherings, and we feel it would be irresponsible to continue with the event in light of recent developments.

'At the supper we intended to announce a new approach for our annual Producer of the Year Awards, which will be held during this year's Sourced Locally Fortnight. We will share more details on this approach with you soon.

'As part of this we hope to reorganise the supplier supper at some stage in the summer, which will be an opportunity to present these new awards, and also celebrate our achievements for 2020 so far.'

The retail chain's Sourced Locally initiative - which promotes local food and drink - has been a runaway success since it started in 2007.