Food from England - Photo Steve Haywood

Producers unify through Food From England

A powerful new group has been formed to give England’s food and drink industry a strong collective voice in the wake of Covid 19 and Brexit.

Food from England has been created from more than 30 regional groups which represent over 43,000 businesses. It will specifically support small and medium sized businesses by providing a unified platform from which to communicate the industry's needs to relevant government agencies and departments. It will also highlight the impact of Covid 19 and Brexit and identify ways to help the industry navigate its way through both, while encouraging consumers to keep supporting their local food and drink producers.

One of the founding Food from England members John Farrand, managing director, Guild of Fine Food, organisers of Great Taste, said: “The past eight months have seen disaster and innovation within the regional food and drink sector, possibly in equal measure. 

“Consumers across the country are now realising the importance of connections across the food and drink supply chain, between makers, retailers and consumers - connections that have suddenly become more urgent, closer, simpler and friendlier as a result of coronavirus.

“We have witnessed the rise and fall of our artisan cheesemakers and watched with sadness as our cousins in food service saw their trade plummet overnight.

“This has been balanced by independent retailers attracting new customers, adopting the internet as a tool to keep them, and unearthing previously unknown suppliers from their area to broaden the retail offer.”

Northumberland County Council’s Produced in Northumberland (PIN) has signed up to be part of the group. Cllr Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for Business and Tourism at the council said: “It has been an incredibly difficult time for our food and drink industry and as a council we have been doing all we can to continue to support this sector to ensure it’s recovery after Covid.

“We have seen a number of businesses developing innovative processes and responding to the crisis quickly to ensure they can continue to meet customer demand and in some cases attract new business online. We are looking forward to working as part of the Food for England group to continue to lobby government to look at ways of safeguarding this industry which plays such a huge part in Northumberland’s economy.
“Now more than ever our businesses need people to Shop Local, Shop Northumberland.”

Jackie Maxwell, of Doddington Dairy is a member of PIN and said “This year has been one of the most difficult years we've faced running a food business with the unprecedented challenges of Covid, consequent lockdowns and government food initiatives running alongside changes in customer purchasing behaviour. 

“None of these challenges are unique to one business.  We have always believed that by working together the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, so we look forward to Food from England giving our industry a stronger voice as we move forward into even more turbulent times with Brexit ahead.”

Food from England will develop strategies for producers and artisans to help increase sales through independent retailers and agri-food tourism. This will be enhanced by linking directly to appropriate agencies and public bodies for access to business intelligence that will benefit micro and small producers.

Recommendations will also be developed for the retention of new customers, stimulation of business growth and strengthening of regional identities without compromising national opportunities.

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