Tesco aims to sell more than GBP£1b of local products by 2011, Lucy Neville-Rolf, CMG and executive director of Tesco told British farmers at yesterdays NFU conference.

The move follows demands from consumers for products to be fresh and contribute to the local economy, with Tesco expecting to sell GBP£400m of local products this year alone.

Sir Terry Leahy was due to address the conference to British farms today but was hurt in a skiing accident last week.

Standing in for Leahy, Neville-Rolf, said: "More customers want other produce that is fresh and contributes to the local economy. They see 'local' as a badge of quality. They want to help local farmers, to save on food miles, to know how the product has been produced.

Just over a year ago, Tesco launched Local Sourcing, offering approximately 1,000 local product lines, finding 90 new suppliers and holding around 60 Meet the Farmer events in stores.

"We are now implementing a major programme to make local produce a mainstream part of what we offer to our customers at affordable prices, in all our stores," continued Neville-Rolf. "Our aim is simple: to stock more local lines than any other retailer. We have a clear idea what we mean by local food. In England it's food produced within the relevant county. The more specific we are in labelling the origin, the greater the perception of quality. So it's time for farmers to become local heroes."

Tesco has opened five new local buying offices in Plymouth, Peterborough, Horsham, York and Leicester to supplement the regional offices.