Northumbrian farmers have struck a deal worth £1 million which will ensure that their fresh beef and lamb secures an exclusive place on the shelf of neighbourhood supermarkets across the region.

The new 'Northumbrian' label is the result of close cooperation between Glendale Beef & Lamb Producers, Somerfield and the supplier, Northern Counties. Somerfield has agreed to replace all its own label fresh beef and label in 14 stores across the region.

The new range of quality local beef and lamb will be launched in store on Michaelmas Day - Friday 29th September. This is the traditional day that tenant farmers pay their annual rent to their landlords and they would traditionally mark the day with a feast. The producers group, which has almost 170 farmers, will be hosting an official launch at Fenham Farm, Beal near Berwick-upon-Tweed opposite Lindesfarne together with Somerfield.

Sandy Jeffrey, manager of Glendale said: "We decided to develop our own brand to market our meat direct to local customers. When we heard of Somerfield's reputation for supporting regional suppliers we approached them to see if they would sell our beef and lamb in their stores.

"At a time of crisis for the industry this deal guarantees us a market for our livestock and the reassurance that we can build this brand with the support of Somerfield and Northern Counties."

Somerfield has built a reputation for its 'local' sourcing policy and for its efforts to encourage more farmers to work together on a cooperative basis to strengthen their hand in the food supply chain.

Rosemary Price, Somerfield's trading controller responsible for meat said: "This is an excellent way to build a brand and for the farmers to get their message across to the housewife. Elsewhere in the country we have seen an enthusiastic reception from shoppers for regional sourcing.

"In the Cotswold's we have seen a 40 per cent increase in sales of lamb since we replaced our own label fresh lamb with a locally reared and produced range. Customers want the added reassurance of traceability and quality as well as knowing that their money is going to local farmers."