TOLLESHUNT Major based farmers have been crowned producers of the year for Essex.

Following a month of fierce campaigning, Wicks Manor Pork has been crowned Essex county champion in the East of England Co-op’s Producer of the Year awards 2018.

The premium pork producer is joined by Suffolk champion Havensfield Eggs and Norfolk champion Buxton Potatoes for the second round of the highly anticipated annual competition.

The pork farmers beat Brightlingsea’s Ken Green Fish Merchants to take the Essex title.

From January 1 to 31, a record-breaking 28,638 votes were cast across the region by shoppers and members of the East of England Co-op. The total votes eclipses the 19,392 votes made last year.

Fergus Howie, of Wicks Manor, said: “We are over the moon to be in the shortlisted final three producers.

“The Wicks Manor Pork team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for us. Our dedicated team have put in so much hard work over the last year, so this really makes all of their efforts worthwhile.”

Wicks Manor and the other county winners will now be visited by a panel of food and farming experts before the overall Producer of the Year 2018 is crowned at the annual East of England Co-op Supplier Supper on March 15.

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op said: “Congratulations to Wicks Manor and all our regional winners. We have enjoyed a tremendous month of voting and all winners and nominees deserve a lot of praise for their hard work which has been rightfully recognised through the high numbers of votes seen this year.

“This competition is always a great way to encourage our customers to ‘think local’ and the record-breaking votes received reflects their passion to enjoy locally sourced food and support the producers who supply this fantastic produce.”