New suppliers featuring fruit and veg in their products come through retailer’s incubator scheme

The Co-op has launched an accelerated support scheme for smaller suppliers, with products from the first phase hitting shelves this month.

The Wonky Food Co has gained a Co-op listing

The Wonky Food Co has gained a Co-op listing

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.

That includes industry and consumer insight, workshops, technical hints and tips, and access to the convenience retailer’s dedicated buying teams, enabling suppliers to accelerate towards a retail listing.

The programme will see six new suppliers launch in store this year, including the Wonky Food Co, Dapur Mariae, Scrapples, Superfoodio, Urban Rajah and The Woolf’s Kitchen.

The suppliers have become the first to progress through the programme and gain a listing in nearly 200 Co-op stores.

September launches include 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 lunchbox fillers for children. The business will supply Co-op with its apple, apple and mango, and apple and strawberry crisps.

The Wonky Food Co creates chutneys and relishes, and is supplying its Chilli Tomato, Tangy Onion and Zesty Lime relishes using imperfect and surplus fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste.

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.”