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'Switch to Local' campaign could see economy benefit to tune of £8m

BY CLAIRE McNEILLY

Published 11/09/2013

Campaign: Michelle O'Neill
Campaign: Michelle O'Neill

The Northern Ireland economy could see a boost of over £8m in just six weeks if consumers back home-grown suppliers, it has been claimed.

Tesco is spearheading a 'Switch to Local' campaign that aims to encourage shoppers to swap one item on their grocery list for a Northern Irish alternative.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill launched the initiative – which has received the backing of industry chiefs – at Stormont yesterday. "Our food stands out in terms of its quality and flavour and in many cases is renowned on the international stage, but there is an ongoing need to keep the subject of provenance and sustainability at the forefront of our local consumers' minds," she said.

"I encourage all other retailers and food service outlets to take similar steps and for processors and trade bodies to become involved where possible, as it is clear that customers find that buying local produce is important to them."

Food NI's Michelle Shirlow said the scheme could be worth a substantial amount to the economy.

"There are over 700,000 households in Northern Ireland. If very local shopper switches one item per weekly shop at, say £1 or £2, imagine the impact we could see on sales of Northern Ireland products: it could be millions of pounds over the next six weeks alone," she said.

Tesco NI marketing manager Caoimhe Mannion said the supermarket would source "as much as possible" from local suppliers.

"This region produces an array of superb products," she said.

"We hope this campaign will educate shoppers and help them to give the local farming and food industries an extra boost. We know consumers here care about where their food comes from."

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