Rural shops throughout England are being offered the chance to bolster their local food offer with confidence by signing up to the lottery-funded Making Local Food Work scheme.

The Plunkett Foundation-run scheme gives independent and community-owned shops free access to a dedicated advisor; 'Look for Local' branded pos material; and training workshops to improve their range of local goods and get better acquainted with local producers.

Some of the 77 stores already signed up have reported sales increases of up to 20%, project manager Nicole Hamilton said.

She added: "Through this scheme we want to increase the availability and demand for local food, by promoting it to shops in villages and rural areas."

Hamilton said that she hoped to have more than 200 stores signed up and using the 'Look For Local' branding in the next two years.

Making Local Food Work defines anything grown, raised or produced within 30 miles of the shop or the county as being 'local'. A recent study conducted by the organisation showed that every £10 spent on local food generated £25 for the local economy.