DORSET food and drink makers are being given a chance to gain a place on a supermarket’s shelves.

Morrisons, which has stores in Weymouth, Bridport and Blandford, has met with the local businesses after announcing the search for local suppliers in February after research found that customers want to see more food and drink made and produced ‘just down the road’ from their communities.

More than 60 producers applied to take part in the regional programme. The best 17 were then invited to Highbridge, in Somerset where they pitched to Morrisons buyers, customers and local store colleagues, as well as the Women’s Institute.

Richard Jones, Morrisons Food Quality Expert and Development Chef, said: “The South West has a long history of great, local food and the producers we’ve seen here have been no exception. After seeing the quality of the food at our event today, we’re keen to put even more food made locally on our customers’ plates.”

Local foodmakers who attended the event included the Dorset companies: Hotch Potch, who specialise in making gluten free pies; The Dorset Dairy Co, third generation farmers who produce natural yogurts using traditional methods; and The Real Cure a local supplier producing British charcuterie from local meats.

The Women’s Institute were also at the event, using their local knowledge and expertise to help Morrisons select the best food and drink makers.

Julia Statton, Chairman of the local Women's Institute said: "We're looking for those products that use fresh, local ingredients with sensible packaging and, of course, food that tastes amazing. We saw some promising products today and are looking forward to seeing some of them in Morrisons stores soon."

The suppliers who Morrisons think have what it takes to supply its stores will now be invited to a final round at the supermarket’s head office in Bradford.