The provision of an information, advice & guidance service for the food sector in Somerset in conjunction with the Food and Drink Enterprise Development Service (FEDS) programme of South West Food & Drink.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Background & Setting
FS4 is one of the principle projects run by Somerset Food Links (SFL) and the pilot, funded by Somerset Rural Renaissance, will run until March 2008. The project covers the administrative area of Somerset plus the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Exmoor National Park. It is aimed at small to medium sized businesses within the Food and Drink Sector in order to stimulate the rural economy to develop new initiatives and extend existing ones.
The project will offer support to these businesses and enable them to have access to information and expertise built up in Somerset Food Links over the past eight years.
The project also works with other support providers such as Business Link Rural Enterprise Gateway Information Service to signpost businesses to the most appropriate service.
If the pilot proves successful it will be extended beyond March 2008.
There are six main objectives:
- To help businesses access new markets
- To provide advice and support on development of added value and quality products
- To help businesses access training and/or deliver training in response to demand where none exists
- To facilitate networking through formal and informal events
- To involve in marketing & PR opportunities
- To offer support to attend trade fairs, shows and exhibitions held locally, regionally and nationally
A Knowledge Base is being compiled underpins the work of SFL staff when offering guidance to clients.. Clients will eventually be able to access part of this directly via a website. It will contain details of growers & producers along the supply chain to retailers and hospitality customers as well as training providers, marketing opportunities, grant providers and other support services.
Producer Groups – Somerset Orchard Link
Producers can add value to their enterprises through processing their own produce. For individual producers this only becomes viable once they group together. Foodlinks assisted Somerset Orchard Link with research, training and coordinating administration. This group of small-scale orchard owners is working towards becoming an independent group/organization to process their collective apple crop.
Diversification – Bower Hinton Farm Shop
Bower Hinton opened their farm shop in April 2006 to maintain the sales of vegetables when a neighbouring farm shop closed. Foodlinks helped to make it a smooth transition with support through the planning stages, identifying new suppliers of local products (particularly milk and meat), installing a customer loyalty package, publicity for the opening and ongoing promotion and support.
Distribution & Logistics – Somerset Local Food Direct
This online home delivery food and drink business grew out of Somerset Farmers’ Markets, Somerset Food Links’ first ’promote and float’ company, to meet the growing demand for fresh local food when no farmers’ market was running. They deliver a wide range of locally sourced products such as fruit & veg, meats, ready meals, dips & dressings, pickles & preserves and, now, Ecover cleaning products. Foodlinks helped them to identify a finance package, advertise their service and source enough producers to offer a complete range.