In the fourth part of our series urging restaurants to source locally-produced food, The Birmingham Post's Sarah Probert looks at businesses supplying food to the industry...
Local suppliers need to be more geared up to pushing their produce at restaurants across the region if the public is to see local food on their menus, according to some producers.
Entrepreneur Rod Adlington of Pheasant Oak Farm in Balsall Common, who supplies butchers, caterers and delicatessens with turkey, said producers were keen to see their foods served in restaurants but the supply chain currently made it difficult.
He said: ?I think it is slow, but there is definitely a move towards it. I think in a way the trouble is down to the supplier not being geared up for it.
?Restaurants tend to make their orders at midnight and they want them the next morning and you have to be geared up for that.
?As farmers we have other commitments as well as selling to restaurants and it has always been very tricky, so we are happy to supply them through catering butchers.
?I think it is very important that we get involved with restaurants. It is vital because it means local people have a chance to eat our produce. It is a showcase for producers, it is a way of showing off and getting a good reputation for the product locally.
?There is also a big education aspect. We have to tell people food is available and trying to persuade restaurants to put our food on their table and on the menus is part of that.?
Mr Adlington?s business, Turkey Talk, began on a modest family farm producing turkeys for Christmas.
It has since expanded with up to 500 birds a week being delivered across the country.
Mr Adlington moved from supplying raw turkey to cooking and smoking the birds following a downturn in price for the raw meat.
He prides himself on caring for them to ensure a bettertasting turkey free from added water, which is often pumped into intensively farmed birds.
He said: ?It is going really well. It tends to be a niche product, the smoked and cooked turkey, and we are about to launch a new upmarket pre-packed product.
?The overall turkey market is pretty dire because of the amount of turkey coming in from abroad but we have found a niche.? Mr Adlington said new methods of distribution, such as the soon to be set up Green Grocer initiative, could help increase the amount currently used by regional chefs.
The initiative, launched by growers and producers from Warwickshire and Worcestershire will deliver local food to schools, restaurants and individual consumers.
?I think restaurants don?t want too many suppliers, they don?t want hundreds of invoices. It is up to us to make the job easier for them and that is why we need initiatives like the Green Grocer initiative,? he said.
?I think the food miles issue is also a very important one because of the impact on the environment. Food often travels all over the country and back again.?