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Exclusive: Formby Tesco bypasses Formby asparagus

How local is the local produce claim? Herefordshire, in this case....

Published on January 14th 2010.

Exclusive: Formby Tesco bypasses Formby asparagus

THEIR tips are renowned across the world – and we're not talking about the Racing Post. A few dedicated Formby farmers produce some of the best asparagus money can buy.

The unique flavour and fleeting season makes Formby asparagus a highly prized delicacy. It was served to first class passengers on the Titanic and today features at Michelin-starred restaurants and embassy banquets the country over.

If you wanted to bag a bundle of the famous spears, you might think the Formby branch of Tesco would be just the place. After all, the world's third largest supermarket chain says it has always been committed to providing customers with “the best local produce possible”.

But you would be wrong. For despite being a mere eight-minute drive from the fertile sandy soil of David Brooks' asparagus farm, the Formby bypass branch prefers to transport the vegetable in bulk in lorries all the way from Herefordshire, over 150 miles away.

We rang the number for the Formby branch customer services and asked why they were not selling the prized local produce, fans of which claim is the “Finest” on earth.

”Formby?” came the reply. “Is that, like, a location?” It turns out customer services for the Altcar Road store is even further away than its asparagus suppliers – in Cardiff. But still.

By Gerry Corner

Mr Brooks, who says the salty Lancashire sands are key to the exceptional flavour and crisp texture of his crop, said he had never been approached by Tesco despite their claim to “always look for food that is produced locally”.

Indeed, in these globally warmed times, Liverpool-born Tesco boss Terry Leahy told food industry representatives this year: “We’re giving consumers a good choice of local produce.”

But one disgruntled Tesco customer told Liverpool Confidential: “I went into the Formby branch specially to pick up some Formby asparagus. It's really quite annoying that the finest, freshest asparagus is right on their doorstep but they don't stock it.”

Mr Brooks added that even if Tesco decided they wanted his asparagus, he would now struggle to supply them as “demand is greater than supply”.Still, it would be nice to be asked.

Meanwhile, Tesco's press office said they would get back to us with an explanation, but we're still waiting . . .

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

EditorialMay 15th 2009.

We had this email through from Tesco, at 1.56pm today, a couple of hours after publishing this story"Much as we'd like to sadly we have been unable to obtain a sufficientamount of the 'famous' variety for our customers needs so are notcurrently stocking. We are committed to locally sourced goods andsource asparagus from Hereford and Warwickshire."

local foodieMay 15th 2009.

Where can we buy this wonderful product? Is Waitrose Formby supplying it, can we get it from the farm, or what about Farmer Ted'S? Please advise.

AndyMay 15th 2009.

I had some of Mr Brooks's fine asparagus for lunch. Bought it fresh from his farm while walking the dog. Best asparagus I've ever tasted and only £2,50 for a big thick bunch. It's also available in several local (small business) shops in Formby. Who wants to go into the hell-hole that is Tesco's anyway?

AnonymousMay 15th 2009.

Mr Brooks looks like a jolly chap.

SparrowgrassMay 15th 2009.

You don't go to Tesco to buy decent food anyway, even when it's in season.

London RoadMay 15th 2009.

It's the same at asda with the apples. Cox pippins from Israel in the autumn, when it's apple season here. But for them not to stock something from eight minutes away is bizarre.

Patrick Trout on special offerMay 15th 2009.

You are right, it is the Master, stealing an Asparagus quantum circuit from a Zygon battle cruiser. As their technology has an organic base asparagus spears is the key component of their quantum drive. Interchangeable and sections without having to remove the whole drive. This is why the Zygons have been targetting Formby. It was Omega himself who first documented the the properties of Formby Asparagus as being the finest and purest in the Universe, however when he harnessed singularity, he abandoned the organic research. the Master stole the texts from the Ancient artifacts of Gallifrey in the Panoptican. He gave the information to the Zygons on the understanding that once the invasion took place and Formby was under their control that he would take over the Tesco chain from Commander Leahy of the Imperial Draconian Guard and rule the Earth. This would be the first step to control of the galaxy, a small step but every little helps.

C. DevvilMay 15th 2009.

Anonymous, I agreed with you at first sight but upon closer inspection that photograph of Mr. Brooks has a strong resemblance to The Master (as portrayed by the great Roger Delgado) in Doctor Who.

KnowledgeableMay 15th 2009.

You can buy Formby asparagus at most small greengrocers along the Sefton coast from Waterloo onwards up to Southport from now until June 21. Then the season is over and it's Peruvian for another year.

Britney SpearsMay 15th 2009.

That doesn't excuse it though, does it. I mean, Asda sells eggs from all over the country but they have a section where they will put eggs or meat or whatever from a local farm. Nobody expects Mr Brooks to supply the whole Tesco chain with Formby asparagus, but it would be nice if they gave a nod to local produce. I do all my weekly shop in Tesco, I don't have time to walk around greengrocers, and I would like the opportunity to reduce my carbon footprint for one.

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