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Shire council allocates nearly £38,000 to help Opportunity North East food and drink projects

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Food and drink projects led by regional economic development partnership Opportunity North East (One) are to receive extra support from Aberdeenshire Council.

Members of the local authority’s infrastructure services committee have heard that One’s food and drink-focused activities have been badly affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

Impacts to date include the cancellation of the North East Scotland Food and Drink Awards, and North East Scotland (NES) Food and Drink Network events being curtailed.

But, thanks to some events being delivered online, more businesses have been able to access key information and support.

Hopes of a swift return to normal

This online support and networking will continue via webinars for now, but it is hoped that face-to-face help for businesses and networking can resume again soon.

Councillors have approved a £37,900 contribution towards total project costs of £213,850 to progress work around a number of One-led activities, including the NES Food and Drink Network and Food and Drink Awards.

Business growth, alumni, leadership and new product development innovation programmes, as well as a new start accelerator, will also benefit from the extra cash.

The industry remains a crucial and constantly developing area of our region’s diverging local economy.”

Peter Argyle, Aberdeenshire Council

Welcoming the additional funding for One, Aberdeenshire Council infrastructure committee chairman Peter Argyle said: “Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, and the industry remains a crucial and constantly developing area of our region’s diverging local economy.

“There are 22,000 people employed in the industry in the north-east of Scotland, and the region accounts for more than 20% of Scotland’s food and drink output.

“It leads on the production of Scotland’s quality primary produce from land and sea, and is home to some of the country’s most iconic brands.”

Councillor Peter Argyle

Mr Argyle added: “Aberdeenshire Council continues to be a very strong supporter of our dynamic food and drink industry, and I am confident that the ongoing work of Opportunity North East will ensure that Scotland’s largest manufacturing sector continues to go from strength to strength.”

Committee vice-chairman John Cox said: “Regionally, in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, the food and drink industry directly employs more than 22,000 people and is worth more than £2.2 billion each year.

“Key developments under way to support the sector include the SeedPod project being launched next year, which will become the focal point to create and deliver the region’s leading position in technology innovation and adoption.

“We can also expect to see the Seafood Transformation Project come online, which will target changes in the region’s largest processing sector to increase its productivity through advanced manufacturing and processing facilities, leadership and skills investment, and access to new national and international markets.”

Big ambitions for the region’s food and drink sector

One was established in 2015 as a private sector-led body, focused on ensuring a sustainable economic future for the north-east.

It aims to broaden and strengthen the region’s economy by investing in and accelerating the delivery of projects of scale and impact through five sector boards: covering energy; food, drink and agriculture; life sciences; tourism; and digital/entrepreneurship.

The ambition for food and drink/agriculture is to grow sector turnover by 5% per annum, double output and exports by 2030, and increase productivity by 25% by 2025.

Time running out for Aberdeenshire firms to get their hands on some vital Covid impact cash

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