Local food sales in Asda have rocketed by 41% over the last year in its stores in England and Wales.
Asda stores in Scotland and Northern Ireland has also shown a “marked increase” in sales, with 29% increase in sales.
Asda currently has over 6,500 local lines on its shelves across the UK and has recently invested over £80,000 in researching its customers’ views on local food.
Caroline Burgess, Asda’s customer planning manager for emerging markets, believes the success of the local range is down to its ‘hub’ system and a willingness to listen to customers.
She said: “41% growth in the last twelve months in England and Wales is a phenomenal result and means that local is now as big as more established areas of the business, such as fish.
“Asda’s hub system has been in place since 2002 and we have nine hubs working in fourteen regions across the UK working directly with local suppliers to guide them through the Asda accreditation process and act as a single distribution point, saving on average three million food miles a year.”
Some of the current local products in stores outsell more established national brands.
Examples include Cain’s brewery in Merseyside, Ellis eggs in Wales and M.I. Dickinson’s Pies in the north-east England.
Being a local supplier to Asda, said Burgess, can also be a springboard to becoming a national supplier.
For example, WC Rowes of Cornwall is now Asda’s national supplier of Cornish pasties.
Asda is also trialling dedicated ‘local ambassadors’ in the north-west to make sure local products are stocked correctly on the shelf and to provide advice to customers who may have questions about where the products come from.
The investment in researching customers’ views on local could, according to Burgess, help improve customer’s shopping experience.
She said: “Asda always listens to our customers and what they are telling us is that they are increasingly interested in local products relevant to them.
“This means that we are working closely with suppliers and our hubs to ensure local products are stocked in stores where there is a demand for them.
“For example, there’s no point stocking a locally-produced pie in Sheffield if our customers tell us they want it in Leeds.
“Now our local line is established as the market leader, we will let our customers help us improve the range even further.”