Forth Valley Food and Drink, the regional food group that aims to grow a thriving food and drink network for central Scotland, has secured funding to champion local produce.
The group, which is made up of a diverse group of members including food and drink organisations across Stirling, Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire and West Dunbartonshire, is receiving the funding from industry leadership body, Scotland Food & Drink. It is part of a new national £250k fund, supported by the Scottish Government, to support the ongoing development of Scotland’s regional food groups.
Over the next 12 months, Forth Valley Food and Drink aims to position the region as a leading food and drink tourism destination, extol the benefits of buying locally, and improve connection and collaboration between food and drink businesses in the area.
Central Scotland’s agricultural landscape is home to food and drink producers of all shapes an sizes, and the region is a leader in the Neighbourfood movement – a new way to buy local food from farmers and food producers.
Founded earlier this year, Forth Valley Food and Drink is a network led by, and for the benefit of, members, and aims to create a vibrant local food economy and showcase the best the region has to offer.
The fund will benefit 14 groups across the country by resourcing coordinator posts and will include match-funding from partners including local authorities. It aims to create an active network of regional ambassadors who work in conjunction with local authorities to promote regional food and drink and tourism strategies.
Regional food groups like Forth Valley Food and Drink plan and deliver projects such as increasing consumption and supply of local produce; upskilling food and drink businesses; hosting events; improving digital developments and e-commerce with local companies and, crucially, developing food and drink tourism.
Carolyn McGill, Coordinator at Forth Valley Food and Drink, said: “Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the Forth Valley food and drink and tourism industry. Local consumer awareness and respect for the sector has been increased dramatically as local businesses have been a lifeline for many in the rural communities.
“With new funding from Scotland Food & Drink, we hope to build on that momentum and desire for locally-sourced products, ultimately strengthening the region’s industry.”
Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Regional food groups like Forth Valley Food and Drink have a pivotal role to play in the successful growth and development of our country’s food, drink and food tourism sectors, especially in the recovery from Covid-19.
“With a combination of both long-established groups, those which are more recently formed, and some which are brand new, Scotland’s diverse mix of regional food groups all have energy, ambition and a commitment to championing their areas. With this new funding, our aim is to build a strong network of groups and give them the recognition and backing they deserve.”
Supporting regional food groups is a key pillar in Scotland Food & Drink’s UK Market Development ‘Home Advantage’ Strategy, which aims to achieve £17bn turnover from food and drink sales within the UK by 2030.
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