A British feast of a Fortnight

The 15th British Food Fortnight which took place from 17 Sept-2 Oct 2016 recorded another great year of celebrations with schools, shops, pubs, restaurants, hospitals and communities across the country flying the flag for our great British produce. The campaign kicked off with official sponsor, Co-op, extending its commitment to back UK farmers by switching all of its bacon and lamb to 100% British, as part of it’s ongoing pledge to invest a minimum of £1.5bn sourcing UK meat and vegetables. The new sourcing initiative will make the Co-op the only major UK food retailer to stock 100% own-brand British beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon and turkey. Specific campaign activity ranged from dressing its stores in colourful bunting, running an educational roadshow with special talks on provenance and producing an inspirational Quality British Food Cookbook.

British Food Fortnight is enormously proud to be working alongside the Co-op which has already signalled its continued support of the campaign into next year with confirmation it will be the official sponsor of British Food Fortnight 2017.

Other highlights from British Food Fortnight this year included:

A British School meals bonanza – schools have traditionally got behind British Food Fortnight and this year was no exception. Catering organisation, Cucina, which feeds over 60,000 British state school students every school day across 47 schools around the country ran a special British Food Fortnight menu. Top Cucina chef Phil Howard led the British Food Fortnight effort by judging its successful ‘You’re the Chef’ competition where school children were invited to develop their own British recipes. A brand new after school programme helped students, staff and parents learn how to produce recipes and were given inspiration on seasonal British ingredients. Phil was joined by UK MasterChef The Professionals 2011 winner Ash Mair who developed special dishes for British theme days held during the Fortnight.

Hospitals and care homes re-vamp their menus – from the North to the South an impressive number of NHS Foundation Trusts embraced British Food Fortnight. Staff and patients were treated to Chefs Specials using just locally sourced British meat and seasonal British vegetables. Freeman Hospital, part of the Newcastle & Tyne NHS Foundation Trust featured British classics on its menu while the Morecambe Bay Trust worked with local suppliers, organised theme days, promoted seasonal British products through its restaurants and patient menus as well as bringing suppliers on site to do some cooking demonstrations within its restaurants. Gloucester Royal Hospital even placed a small farmers market in its restaurant!

Cake for the Queen – schools up and down the country took part in this spectacular competition which challenged students to bake a cake for Her Majesty using healthy, British ingredients. Chosen from a total of 98 entries, Chiddingstone Primary School in Kent was crowned winner. Its stunning cake themed ‘The Queen’s 90th Garden Party at Buckingham Palace’ was made with home-grown carrots, Kentish apples and local eggs and honey. It won the school a very special visit to Buckingham Palace in recognition of the incredible work put in by the students.

Flying the flag in villages, towns and cities – from staging a Great British Food Festival in Bath to showcasing all the wonderful British produce in the region at the Taste of Timsbury, Hampshire, the country saw more foodie events than ever in support of the Fortnight. Previous winners of the Fortnight’s Harvest Heroes competition the town of Emsworth went one better by running an incredibly successful British themed wine and beer festival.

Celebrations of long lost recipes and regional specialities were given a makeover. Hundreds of pubs and restaurants championed British produce and we saw a resurgence in traditional dishes. The National Association of Market Authorities encouraged markets nationwide to ensure a good selection of British produce was on offer. “In homes and neighbourhoods across the land we encouraged everyone to celebrate all that is great about our delicious British food and they didn’t disappoint”, said Raymond Blanc.

Plus school children around the country were encouraged to farm visits, craft activities, talks, tastings and tours. Some of the events included Hog & Hop evenings, veg heads and scarecrow making

Harvest Torch rests in Lincoln Cathedral – taking pride of place amongst worshipers and a stunning display of local produce the Harvest Torch looked very much at home at the National Harvest Service within Lincoln Cathedral. The Harvest Torch is a symbol of Thanksgiving for all our wonderful home grown food made available to us by hardworking farmers and producers around the country. Over 400 Harvest celebrations have taken place across the UK during the traditional harvest period.

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Cathryn Higgs, Food Policy Manager, Co-op said: “As a convenience retailer who champions British Food and drink, working with Love British Food makes perfect sense and it’s been a fantastic partnership this year. Our stores, colleagues and customers have all really got behind the initiative and we are very happy to be able to extend our sponsorship into 2017, building on the success of this year. Supporting British food and drink is absolutely central to our business and we are really looking forward to continuing our work with Love British Food.”

Alexia Robinson, Founder of British Food Fortnight said “Ending this year’s British Food Fortnight with the news that the Co-op is continuing its sponsorship in 2017 is just brilliant. The Co-op is the perfect partner for Love British Food’s activities. More than any other retailer, the Co-op is making quality British Food accessible and affordable to high streets throughout Britain. For them – and us – supporting British food is about much more than hanging out the bunting.”