British Food Fortnight could increase sales by five per cent

The best of Yorkshire produce will take centre stage as a Bradford garden centre prepares to host a tasting event to round off the summer which last year helped boost food sales at Blickling Hall by five per cent.

Image: Tong Garden Centre
Image: Tong Garden Centre

Tong Garden Centre will hold its first ‘Taste' celebration of food and drink over the weekend of September 17 and 18 at its Tong Lane site.

Organisers at the garden centre have planned the event to coincide with the start of British Food Fortnight, the annual, national celebration of British food and drink held 17 September - 2 October.

"We're really looking forward to hosting our first ‘Taste' food and drink celebration and showcasing some of the best producers in Yorkshire to our visitors," said Jo Dales, marketing manager at Tong Garden Centre.

Many of Tong's 100 plus Yorkshire suppliers will be setting up tasting stands for people to sample their products. There will be everything from baked goods from Malton's Julyan The Baker and preserves from Holmfirth-based Peckish Kitchen to Wold Top Brewery's award winning ales and Yorkshire Drizzle's flavoured oils for visitors to try.

Dales added: "Whether it's sampling great food, entertaining the kids at Grass Hoppers Adventure Playground, or a spot of retail therapy, there will be something for everyone throughout the weekend. There will also be plenty of opportunities to taste the best of British food and drink in Grass Hoppers, the Coffee Shop and the Orchard Kitchen."

British Food Fortnight is a national celebration that has taken place every year since 2002.

It first began as a response to the foot and mouth crisis that hit the British farming industry and aims to encourage consumers to actively seek out British food.

The National Trust's Blickling Hall Park and Garden are among those who took part in 2015. 

Blickling Hall in Norfolk took part by offering a British Food Fortnight Menus where everything came from within 10 – 15 miles of the property; the children’s menu also featured local food.

The menu was displayed in prominent positions throughout Blickling Hall especially in the shop and the atrium had a special display pointing visitors to the restaurant.  The restaurant itself was decorated with St George’s flags and posters.

Sales increased by about five per cent.

The Trust said: "This was significant as tickets to visit the property are generally sold out by coaches at this time of year so the increase in sales was specifically because of the special menu."

Blickling was nominated as one of only ten ‘Exemplary Properties’ for the National Trust: an accolade awarded to properties promoting local and regional produce and lowering food miles.

The Trust said:

  • People are happy to pay slightly more when they know where the food is from and that everything is cooked on site. 
  • Always advertise provenance. 
  • Keep menu simple. Offer the old favourites but add a local or traditional twist. For example, soup and ‘bangers and mash’ are the most popular dishes on their menu and are easy to localise. 
  • Customers do not like to ask to have a dish explained to them so make sure the menu is self-explanatory. 
  • Talk to other local chefs for advice on suppliers and traditional recipes. 

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