North East food, drink and processing businesses explore growth support options

More than 100 people attended a seminar earlier this week to explore the range of growth support available to food, drink and processing businesses in North East Scotland.

The event at Thainstone House Hotel, by Inverurie, was organised by Opportunity North East and Aberdeenshire Council as part of the North East Scotland Food & Drink Network. It highlighted the range of local and national support available to the sector and enabled businesses to engage with providers at a single event.

Food and drink producers, primary processors and businesses considering diversification based in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray attended the event.

More than 20 organisations that support business growth in the sector presented on their work and held one to one meetings with attendees. Participating organisations included Aberdeenshire Council; Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce; Business Gateway; Business Mentoring Scotland; DYW North East; Elevator; Interface; James Hutton Institute; LEADER; Making Innovation Happen; Opportunity North East; Robert Gordon University; Rowett Institute; Scotland Food and Drink; Scotland’s Rural College; Scottish Development International; Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service.

ONE aims to build on the region’s significant strengths in food, drink and agriculture to achieve overall increases in turnover, profitability and high quality employment in the sector in the medium to long term. The focus areas for its activity are business growth; innovation; supply chain integration; market development and skills. ONE co-funds its work with private and public partners, including Aberdeenshire Council, Scotland Food & Drink and Scottish Enterprise, to maximise growth in the sector.

Food, drink and agriculture make up a significant part of the economy of North East Scotland and directly employ more than 22,000 people. In Scottish terms, the region accounts for 17% of the sector’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and 18% of employment. Excluding the whisky sector, it contributes an estimated 20% of Scotland’s food and drink industry output with approaching 25% of Scotland’s primary agricultural output and 50% of its fish landings.

Peter Cook, ONE’s Director of Food, Drink & Agriculture, said: “This region has fantastic strengths across food, drink and primary processing. Catalysing growth in businesses of all sizes will achieve long term economic growth and create high quality employment as part of the region’s economic renaissance. Ensuring that businesses are aware of and can access the available support to achieve their aspirations is very important and this event was a practical means of bringing together growing businesses with support organisations, covering everything from accelerated growth to research and development innovation. The connections made today will help to ensure that businesses successfully leverage the support available to them.”