More and more retailers are reaping the benefits of stocking produce from local suppliers and with British Food Fortnight looming (September 19 October 4) now is the perfect time to think about raising awareness of British food in your store and supporting local producers.

Finding suppliers is the first and perhaps most difficult step. Richard Hall, who runs Select & Save store Everyday Convenience Stores in Driffield, East Yorkshire, uses farmers' markets as a starting point. "I got chatting to a brewery owner at a local farmers' market and decided to stock four of his products. They were so popular that I now stock 12."

Paul Mather, who owns Sherston Post Office Stores in Wiltshire with wife Gail, always has his eyes open for a new supplier. "Sometimes we'll pass a farm and just pop in and have a chat, or we'll see local produce in another shop and track down the supplier that way."

Trade exhibitions and magazines are also effective ways to find suppliers, he says.

Of course, stores in urban areas don't have the luxury of farms on their doorstep. But that doesn't mean that they can't take part in British Food Fortnight they just need to take a closer look at the bigger brands they sell. "Every shop already has British produce they just have to look for it," says Mike Duffy of Lightwater Budgens in Surrey. "It isn't just fruit, veg and bread that is British; it can be ambient products too, such as Colman's mustard."

Paul agrees: "We included Warburtons bread in our promotions last year. We've had a relationship with them for just 12 months, but they've really got behind us and helped us to increase our sales in that time."

Once you've established which of your suppliers are British, then some nifty labelling and a few British flags dotted around will set you up. To make this job easier, British Food Fortnight organisers have made free posters, stickers and shelf barkers available to download (

Beyond in-store displays, there are further opportunities to raise awareness. Paul tries to do something different on each day of the fortnight to build up interest. "I design leaflets to distribute around the local area, which let customers know what we're doing, and offer loads of samples and promotions. Last year we ran a promotion with Wiseman Dairies and I dressed up as a cow anything that's a bit wacky really captures imagination."

Mike made a big impact on customers at his Lightwater store when he parked a red tractor outside the front of his shop. He is hoping to do something similar this year and also plans to involve a local school. "We're liasing with the school about running a colouring competition, where pupils can decorate a piece of bunting with a British food theme," he says. "The winner will receive a hamper filled with British goods."

He says the benefits of backing British food are great. "There's an amazing feel-good factor for customers. Supporting British produce has worked really well for our store. It's made customers more aware and put money in the tills."