HADDINGTON Food Assembly has announced it will close at the end of this month after the company which oversees the project decided to pull out of the United Kingdom.

The assembly, which has been running for two years, revealed it would no longer be able to operate earlier this week.

Assembly host Bryden McKinnie, told the Courier, he received news from the Food Assembly UK operators on Friday afternoon that they were no longer operating in the UK.

The assemblies, which started in France, have been operating across the UK for five years.

They provide local hosts with the support to set up a website where local producers can offer their goods for sale and customers can browse online filling a "shopping basket" with products from a number of different companies.

They then collect all their shopping at one place on a set evening of the week.

The Haddington Assembly has held weekly collections at the Maitlandfield House Hotel since it began, with a wide range of local suppliers.

More than 1250 people have become members of the assembly in East Lothian but host Bryden said one of the issues to faced was building regular customers to make it sustainable.

He said of the 100 plus members only around 50 shop with any regularity and if the assembly was to continue in another form it was important to understand what stopped the other members from using it.

He said: "It is difficult to sustain when you do not have a lot of regular shoppers, and this is a common thread among all the UK food assemblies.

"We are talking to each other and looking at whether we can come up with a new way of operating, the announcement from the Food Assembly came as a shock and has really rocked everyone, but we are looking to the future."

The Haddington Food Assembly will stop at the end of this month.

However Mr McKinnie said alternatives would be looked at if it received a boost in its support.

He said: "During the summer months orders can fall as low as 10 a week which is not sustainable. It really is a case of "use it or lose it"."

A spokesperson for the Food Assembly said no public statement on the withdrawal was being made before the end of August.

She said: "The announcement has been made to our network of hosts and producers, many of them will communicate to their members when they are ready, and we will do a public communication in August."