Fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre is celebrating twenty years in business next month.

Beginning with a handful of artisan products and a small number of specialist retailers as customers in February 1999, the company now sells about 3,000 products to 1,700 customers.

“Over the two decades, what retailers are looking for has not enormously changed,” reflects Paul Hargreaves, chief executive at Cotswold Fayre.

“They are still seeking differentiated products, artisan producers and items that fill category gaps such as decadent weekend treats and free from to sell alongside their household staples. Provenance, which had lost some appeal ten years ago, is also beginning to come to the fore again.”

It is not just the number and type of retailers selling fine food that has increased, so has the number of producers and products entering the market.

“Ten years ago, we received around 100 products to review annually for a potential listing with us.  This year we received more than 350,” Hargreaves continued.

“The producers themselves have also changed. Two decades ago, most of our producers were fifty plus. Today, the average age of our suppliers is under 40, and the brands they represent are a full-time passion rather than what was often a part-time project.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone involved with the fine food market. Demand has never been higher, but with the number of suppliers exceeding the retail opportunity, only the strong will survive and strong marketing will be key,” he concluded,