An Exeter shop owned by 300 local people narrowly missed out on being named Best Local Food Retailer in the BBC Radio 4's Food and Farming Awards 2012 at the BBC Good Food Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
Described by TV chef Jamie Oliver as the 'Oscars of the food world', being one of the final three in a field of more than 900 was a significant endorsement for the store that opened just 18 months ago in Exeter city centre. The winner was EuroSpar from mid-Wales.
Manager Ian Taylor said: "Naturally we are disappointed to be pipped at the post, but getting this far in such a prestigious event made us feel like winners. It's a credit to our staff, suppliers and shareholders to have been a runner-up when there were 900 other nominations from right across the UK. The Real Food Store is all about local food and the people who produce it. Most of our suppliers are family owned or very small entreprises based in Devon who benefit financially from having a direct outlet. The vast majority of our customers live or work in the city and are very keen to support such businesses knowing the quality is there at affordable prices."
David Mezzetti, one of five voluntary directors of the store was keen to point out how the Real Food model could be adopted by other cities. He said: "The economy is changing and with it how businesses are set up and run. The Real Food Store is a social enterprise, funded entirely by its shareholders and working to provide benefits to the community it serves that can't always be measured in financial values. We've set up something that suits Exeter but I see no reason why this idea couldn't work in other places as its strength lies in the heart of a community who truly value local food."
The Real Food Store, Bakery and Café is at 11-13 Paris Street, Exeter, and is open Monday to Saturday.