Organisers of a popular food festival have responded to claims that the event has been “commercialised”.

Christchurch Food Festival have reacted to a petition launched to ‘localise’ the event, which is held every year in the town.

The page, which was launched by Christchurch resident Martin Nicholls, has received more than 280 signatures.

Martin said: "The food festival is nothing like it used to be before it was taken over by the events companies."

The petition claims the festival only sells “corporate stuff you can buy from a supermarket” rather than “supporting our local businesses and community.”

Martin added: "It is a local food festival and should include many of the hundreds of local businesses and food manufacturers we have within, I'd say, a maximum of a 30 mile radius of Christchurch."

Read more: Christchurch Food Festival kicks off jubilee four day weekend

Philip Lowery, a spokesperson for Christchurch Food Festival, has responded to the petition, which he said was “hugely disappointing” to see.

Bournemouth Echo: Christchurch Food Festival 2022Christchurch Food Festival 2022

He said: “In response to some of the points raised in the petition we would like to add the following:

“We are not a big event company – the festival is run as a JV between 3 small businesses – Real Food Markets has 9 employees, World of Events (our logistics partner) is one person and Onyx Events Ltd have 4 employees.

“We don’t only sell ‘corporate stuff you can find in the supermarket’ and in fact there are virtually no high street brands taking part in the festival.

“We have added more local produce in the last 2 years with a new relationship with Hampshire Fare to bring their members into the event at subsidised rates.

“The entertainment stage hosted dozens of local bands, charity choirs, amateur theatrical groups and entertainers, giving them a fantastic showcase and providing wonderful entertainment for the crowds.

Philip also told the Daily Echo that a donation of £7,500 will be made to the Christchurch Food Festival Trust, representing around 50% of the net profit that the event made this year.

He added: “The feedback again after the 2022 event has been overwhelmingly positive from traders and visitors alike and we felt we ran a hugely successful and enjoyable event.

"We are looking forward to developing and improving this event for Christchurch and the surrounding region for many years to come.”