Richard Cropper (Gore Halls) sm

Richard Cropper

Northern Spar wholesaler James Hall & Co. has thanked its network of independent north-west producers for going above and beyond during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wilf Whittle, fresh trading manager at the retailer, said that the outlet had refreshed its fruit and vegetable offering to champion north-west growers before the pandemic, adding that the relationship 'has proved invaluable during the pandemic'.

“Covid-19 presented us with a perfect storm: panic buying, yo-yo sales and supply chain disruptions, and British farmers have faced many challenges in finding enough skilled pickers at harvest time and adapting to social distancing,' he explained.

“We work with farms in Southport, Formby, Tarleton, Hesketh Bank and Mere Brow, many of which are multiple-generation farms and have decades of farming expertise. These farms provide a stream of fantastic local produce, delivered straight from farm to fork, including Lancashire new potatoes, Gem lettuce, leeks and chillies, broccoli and courgettes, swede and cabbage.”

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the support these family farms have shown us in ensuring independent Spar retailers could continue to offer fresh and nutritional produce to communities across the north of England.”

JNH Hornby is a fourth-generation brassica farm with 120 acres of reclaimed Lancashire marshland in Hesketh Bank, growing broccoli and cauliflower since the 1930s. The company's Kate Hornby said: “Farmers have to endure lots of difficult periods throughout the growing season and the buyers at Spar appreciate this and understand the challenges we face.

“By buying British, you are buying local produce that is super fresh and often in the shop the day after harvesting: our products are grown by local people with a real passion for putting quality British produce on your plate.”

Gore Hall farm in West Lancashire has been farmed by seven generations of the Cropper family, supplying fresh salads including iceberg lettuce, celery, Little Gem, flat lettuce and Romaine. “Working with local suppliers is better for the environment, helps to support independent, family businesses and boosts our local economy,' said the firm's James Cropper. 'Our partnership with James Hall & Co. allows our products to be distributed quickly and efficiently across the north of England, ensuring freshness and reducing waste.”

Whittle continued: “Working with farms local to our Spar Distribution Centre in Preston enables more flexibility in meeting demand surges, ensures that products are at their freshest when delivered into store, and provides full traceability and a reduction in transport carbon emissions.

“To name only a few, we’d like to say a huge thank you to Gore Hall; T & E Forshaws; JNH Hornby; Huntapac; Dobsons Potatoes; Malbro Farms; Westshore Chillies; and JJ Thompsons. All of our north-west producers are incredibly proud to be playing their part in feeding communities across the north of England during this national crisis.”