New scheme will aid small producers

Local produce supply to be simplified

By Sophie Barnett A new scheme has been officially launched to make it more affordable for small food producers and manufacturers to directly supply local retailers and public institutions, such as schools. The Safe & Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) scheme aims to remove many of the practical barriers preventing small producers from directly supplying local retailers and caterers. It will allow growers to provide retail buyers with robust assurance that their produce meets food safety and legal requirements — at a time when there is increasing demand for locally produced food. Minister for sustainable farming and food Lord Jeff Rooker officially launched the scheme at the International Food Exhibition last week. Membership of the SALSA scheme allows producers and processors to demonstrate their ability to meet the necessary legislative requirements. As the first UK-wide scheme, it will mean an end to the discussion about requirements on a case-by-case basis and costly interaction between suppliers and customers. Under the SALSA scheme, producers and processors will be able to gain and display their credentials to all potential buyers, which will open up new opportunities for suppliers and a greater range of choice for consumers. Rooker said the scheme was about helping small food producers to demonstrate they meet the standards expected by a national buyer at a reasonable cost. The scheme was developed jointly between the British Retail Consortium, NFU, Food & Drink Federation and the British Hospitality Association. It was funded by DEFRA and Scottish Enterprise, and supported by the Food Standards Agency. Producers wishing to gain approval should register with SALSA for £50, with the first compliance audit carried out for £400. Once the audit has been successfully passed the processor will be SALSA certified.

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