Red’s Hot Women internship: THE FOODIE EXPERIENCE

12-03-10 – The fairy godmother of local food heroes

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Bryson on March 12, 2010

I’ve had a really excellent day today with Tracey Marshall who is Product Manager for Local and Regional on the Brand Development Team.

As her title suggests, Tracey works with small artisan producers and helps them get their products from the stalls of farmers markets and food festivals onto the shelves of their local Waitrose and beyond.

She works with a team of buyers and food technologists to bring the product up to scratch.

It really is the grass roots of food production. Spotting fabulous locally made stuff like sausages, ice cream and chutneys and bringing them to a supermarket near you – proper food heroes stuff!

We headed out of Bracknell down to West Sussex to meet husband and wife team Paul and Jane Hatcher who run Prosperity Brownies.

I love their story. They started out with a fabulous recipe making brownies in their home kitchen with their three kids. Pretty soon their friends were telling them they should be selling them to local cafes in Brighton.

The recipe was so yummy that the locals were lapping them up and Prosperity Brownies were born!

Five years on and Paul and Jane have gone from baking at home to a dedicated unit where they have the space to make the quantities they need to meet local demand.

They’ve got some super slick packaging, some cool messages to share and a never ending enthusiasm for what they do.

And now the shelves of their local branches of Waitrose await! Tracey is guiding them through all of the hoops they must jump through to get there. It’s like she’s their foodie godmother.

After meeting them we checked out one of the branches that will be stocking their brownies (and flapjacks) in the coming months. Storrington has only just opened, and is a compact in-town store all shiny and new.

Storrington has a dedicated area for it’s local and regional produce. It’s a real eye catcher and with all the products carrying tickets with the individual stories of the producers – it’s foodie gold dust.

This is where Paul and Jane’s delicious brownies and flapjacks will one day pretty soon be tempting the locals!

I feel genuinely inspired by everything I’ve seen and learnt today. How fantastic to work with all of these producers, spending the time to nurture them so that they can have the satisfaction of seeing their food on the shelves of Waitrose!

How amazing is it that a massive supermarket would invest in such small scale producers because of their love of quality as opposed to clinical profit.

This is why I applied for the internship – two weeks in and I’m more excited than ever!

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