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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Store aims to stock local produce
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Asda has invited local producers to contact them
A supermarket has launched an appeal to Essex farmers to help fill shelves at a new 20m store with local produce.

The step has not met with universal support especially from farmers with their own shops selling local goods and councillors who want a community asset.

Asda claimed it was acting in response to customers who wanted to buy quality local and regional products.

The new store is set to open in Rayleigh at the end of the month creating up to 160 new jobs.

Richard Pearson from Asda said it was easy to get involved.

He said: "Farmers just need a great product, with some technical accreditation so it can be proved to be safe, and very basic equipment like a fax machine to take orders.

"All they need to do then is contact the store or head office and we can take it from there."

'Wrong place'

However, farmer Paul Woodford, from Canewdon near Southend, said he was concerned about the plans for local products.

"We've got our own farm shop and try to give a personal service. Asda has already got shops at Shoebury and South Woodham Ferrers covering the area so why haven't they got local suppliers?"

Local councillor Chris Black said he was not convinced a new supermarket would really benefit the community and claims it was built in the wrong place.

He said: "It's built on a secondary school playing field and the county council started off by dedicating the land's use for the community. There was talk of having a building for Southend Hospital clinics.

"Asda have elbowed themselves onto the site and it's on a very narrow residential street with houses opposite.

"No-one locally has told me they are happy Asda is there, or with the traffic, just so they can buy locally produced apple juice.

"There are already a lot of local products available in the area."

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