It comes as Ocado reveals that products from small businesses account for 70% of its range. The online supermarket is proud of this figure, but is committed to doing more and encourages other retailers and consumers to do the same by supporting and celebrating great British small suppliers.
In addition, consumer research carried out by YouGov for Ocado to mark the launch of this year’s competition, suggests that shoppers are also increasingly scrutinising the provenance of their food with a third, 38%, seeking out small label products.
More than half, 51%, of the people surveyed turn to their supermarket to access products from small suppliers, and 45% of respondents don’t think that big supermarkets are supporting smaller businesses.
Suppliers of any size are encouraged to enter the competition which aims to offer undiscovered brands that all important first step onto the retail ladder. The winning product will be stocked at Ocado and given a boost with a £20,000 marketing support package and one on one mentoring sessions.
2014’s winner Hannah Rhodes, the founder of Hiver, a craft honey beer has seen her business sky rocket since taking the crown, securing listings in nationwide bars and restaurants.
Lord Stuart Rose, Ocado Chairman said, “Ocado is a great British retail success story, so helping to give the next breed of small suppliers the opportunity to get their products online and available to shoppers across the country is something I am really passionate about.
"I’m delighted to re-join the panel as the calibre of entrants last year was staggering, even for someone like me who has been pitched a multitude of start-up ideas over the years. I look forward to seeing what the nation’s foodie entrepreneurs have to show us in 2015.”
Also joining the judging panel for a second year is Tom Kerridge, Author of Proper Pub Food and Chef Patron of The Hand & Flowers who added, “We’re looking for the next big thing in food and drink and can’t wait to see what is on offer this year!
"This is not only a life changing opportunity for the winner, but also gives home cooks the opportunity to get their hands on some of the best ingredients and latest products.”
Britain’s Next Top Supplier is open to all small to medium sized purveyors with a food or drink product not currently stocked at Asda, Waitrose, Morrison’s, Tesco or Sainsbury’s. To enter visit blog.ocado.com by March 15th 2015.