Co-op has launched its new incubator programme, known as ‘The apiary’, creating a “buzz” amongst the first cohort of suppliers to take part in the scheme which is designed to search for, support and mentor smaller, innovative and exciting enterprises.

The first phase of the scheme has seen nine small businesses partner with the Co-op. Each at a different stage in their development, the programme will offer tailored and dedicated support including mentoring, advice on all aspects of the product journey, industry and consumer insight, workshops, technical hints and tips and, access to the convenience retailer’s experienced and dedicated buying teams.

Sitting alongside the Co-op’s successful local sourcing programme, The apiary aims to bring a purpose-led initiative that will focus on building deep-rooted and long-lasting relationships with potential new suppliers while driving innovation, range diversity and agility with values-led small-scale businesses.

The first businesses to partner with Co-op consist of food author, traveller and lifestyle adventurer The Urban Rajah; Caliendo’s Gelato, a family run business dating back to the 1800s; Mon Dessert, a supplier of exciting homemade dessert and recipe kits; Superfoodio, producers of innovative plant-based, low-sugar peanut butter chocolate; Dapur Mariae, an authentic Malaysian sauce company that brings a new variety of tastes and flavours to traditional recipes; The Wonky Food Company who take great-tasting imperfect and surplus fruit and vegetables to create its chutneys and relishes; The Woolf’s Kitchen creators of sauces, condiments and snacking products inspired by the owner’s Thai heritage; Nemi Teas, a tea company providing employment, work experience and skills to refugees; and Spare Snacks who transform wonky apples into delicious and nutritious crisps and snacks for all ages.

Co-op Chief Commercial Officer, Matt Hood, said: “Co-op is committed to creating value in our communities, and we know from feedback that innovation, provenance and, supporting local businesses is important to our Members and customers. We are delighted to partner with this first group of businesses to join our incubator scheme – they are all exciting and innovative organisations with a real point of difference and something unique to excite shoppers. Our ‘apiary’ programme is designed to help anticipate and, respond with speed and agility, to changing consumer needs in our communities. Working together we can provide insight, guidance, technical knowledge and support to help their business develop and grow.”

Suppliers interested in finding out more should visit:

October 2022 issue

2022 A1 Buyers Guide

Buyers Guide 2022