Food and drink producers from across the region have secured contracts with national distributors, scaled-up production and diversified product ranges since embarking upon a business growth programme headed up by Opportunity North East (One).
Twelve businesses from around the north-east were selected for the 2018 programme, which began in March and comprised of workshops and practice, including support from industry experts and access to buyers.
The participating producers have ranged from a nut butter business, to dairy farms, to traditional ice cream, and five brewers and distillers.
Patrick Machray, chairman of One’s Food, Drink & Agriculture Board, said: “This programme aims to give young or smaller food and drink businesses the practical support to realise their growth ambitions.
“Growing our food, drink and agriculture sector is an essential part of the long-term economic diversification that One, and our partners, are pursuing.
“Supporting food and drink producers to grow faster through innovation and market development is key to achieving this. The intensive programme has enabled the 2018 companies to develop action plans to increase their turnover and scale up, and we’ll now support them with ongoing mentoring and access to specialist advice to maintain the pace.”
Susan Yule founded Hungry Squirrel in 2017 and has been taking part to help grow her nut butter business.
Ms Yule said: “Through the programme, I made a new connection to a fellow local food producer and as a result am moving into commercial premises next month. I’ve invested in a new nut butter mill to allow me to increase productivity and volume and will now be working towards attaining Safe and Local Supplier Approval certification, which is essential to meet the demands of larger customers.
“I am now confident I have formulated a growth plan which is manageable, realistic and ambitious.”