Thirteen food and drink producers from across the north-east are involved in the latest edition of a business support scheme which aims to accelerate growth in the sector.
All the firms are taking part in an intensive five months of expert workshops, best-practice visits and mentoring.
The 2018 food and drink Business Growth Programme is helping participants ranging from microbreweries to gin and liquor distillers, an ice-cream producer and a salmon smokehouse to develop focused growth plans.
It is led by the food, drink and agriculture team at economic development body Opportunity North East (One), and supported by Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council.
One sector board chairman Patrick Machray said: “Achieving growth in our food, drink and agriculture sector is fundamental to strengthening and diversifying the regional economy long term.
“One aims to accelerate growth and productivity in food and drink businesses and capitalise on the region’s sector strengths across the quality of our land, primary production, processing and manufacturing, and – most importantly – our enterprising farmers and businesspeople.”
He added: “One is working with the 2018 Business Growth Programme companies to support their ambitions, define and implement ambitious growth plans and emulate the success of last year’s participants in pursuit of significant growth.”
Participants in 2017 went on to secure new customers, increase turnover and grow their workforces.
Ellie Sinclair, founder of Aberdeenshire-based food firm Veg Co, said: “I learned a lot in the 2017 programme.
“One encouraged the development of our rebrand and created opportunities to access new customers and suppliers. It led to a huge increase in our sales and customer base.”
Another 2017 participant, Scott Fraser, of Angus & Oink, said: “The Business Growth Programme’s focus on major retailers was eye-opening.
“From the best-practice visit, we secured distribution with one of the UK’s leading food wholesalers.”