2–4 September 2018 • Olympia London • Trade Only

Sourcing Products: Secretts Farm Shop

Evolving with the changing food supply chain, Secretts Farm Shop – which opened in 1979 - has retained its ethos for top quality produce throughout and is known for its amazing cheese counter, freshly baked breads and artisan supplies.

Currently leading their search for the newest local suppliers is Shirlee Posner, who also runs the food blog Eat Surrey, we sat down with her to understand what she’s looking when sourcing new food and drink.

Secretts is a family business that benefits from a history of horticultural excellence, which other outlets do you admire or take influence from?

I travel all over the South East and pick up ideas all the time. I love The Hungry Guest in Petworth who supply our bread and buy Secretts leaves.  Village Greens at Ockley and Denbies are brilliant as is Kingfisher in Abinger Hammer.

We all have something different and unique to bring to the table especially if it’s local too and its essential to keep up with competition.

You source a lot of produce locally, how do you go about finding & selecting these suppliers?

I started a new programme at Secretts called “Pitch Your Product” as we recognized that a lot of products we had in the farm shop had migrated into supermarkets. We want to replace those where possible with smaller local suppliers.

I find these by the research I have done for my blog over the last four years and by using social media platforms - this is essential for research these days, and a really powerful tool. Once I find a supplier who has a product we would be interested in I set up a session for them to come in and Pitch. This usually lasts 30-40 minutes. They tell us their story, we try the products and then we talk shelf life, minimum orders and social media.

We like to launch new products with a ‘Meet the Producer’ event so customers can try new products before they buy. It’s the most successful way to get a new product noticed. We support this on our social media platforms and try and interact and help our new suppliers get established. I work closely with Secretts Buyer & Farm Shop Manager on this project. 

Secretts Shop Front Display

What advice can you give to Speciality producers looking to get their product listed in a Farm Shop like yours?

It is not a good idea to just turn up at a Farm Shop with a sample as it’s so busy it may not get to the right person at all! Also, make sure you are market ready with great packaging (preferably with bar codes).

We all want to see products that give a point of difference; recent listings include raw organic chocolate bars and gluten free bread mix. We are really keen to find some more really innovative gluten free products, both sweet and savoury, these could be fresh for our deli or longer shelf life products too. If you have a great product get in touch with us via our Pitch Your Product page.

What are the future plans for the business?

Going forward it’s an exciting time for the business. We have some established events that have become incredibly popular such as Pumpkin Week. held just before Halloween, last year with 10,000 visitors. We are developing our calendar of events for the farm for children and adults too - this year we are also holding a sweet corn festival!

Find out more about Secretts here and make sure to join them, along with thousands of other Farm Shops & Delicatessens at Speciality & Fine Food Fair this September. Register your interest now to be the first to hear when registration goes live.

potatos