Kent’s food and drink industry has been recognised at governmental level as a sector with huge potential for growth; and Produced in Kent is named the partner chosen to deliver a support programme for Kent’s Food and Beverage (F&B) companies called “Boost Your Business”.
Kent’s appetite for local food & drink backed by Government funded programme
Produced in Kent (PINK), the trade membership organisation for Kent’s food and drink producers, will be delivering the Boost your Business programme to Kent’s new and growing F&B companies, which have been affected by the pandemic. The county-wide programme will help businesses to reach more customers, sell more products and gain better visibility.
PINK was able to evidence the county’s love for local food and drink, after seeing the results of a survey it ran at the Kent County Show in July. During the three-day show, PINK hosted an extremely popular area, which was buzzing, packed with stands from members championing their own local and artisan food and drink products. PINK surveyed visitors first-hand about their buying habits and feelings towards local food.
People in favour of local produce
The results were surprising. It found that shoppers are buying more local produce in 2022 than in 2021, and a quarter of those surveyed stated that more than half their weekly shopping comes from local businesses.
According to the survey results, Kent’s residents associate local food with the following reasons; 67% said they thought it was ‘good for the environment’ through reducing the food miles; 65% thought the flavour was ‘fresh and tasty’; and 56% said they felt it was ‘high-quality’. A whopping 91% of shoppers said they buy locally for ethical and economic reasons, preferring to support local businesses, over big retailers.
Floortje Hoette, CEO at Produced in Kent explains:
“A lot of commitment and hard graft goes into producing local, sustainable food and drink. Although the survey results are encouraging, the sector is currently under pressure from staff shortages, rising energy costs, supply chain issues and the cost-of-living crisis. There’s a generation of food and drink entrepreneurs with new and growing businesses, who have been negatively affected by the pandemic and are trying to navigate their business through these tough times. They need a leg up and we’re here to do that.”
Boost your Business – How it works
PINK has been awarded Government funding to support 125 food and drink businesses who have been impacted by Covid with a bespoke business support package, focusing on making the businesses more visible to customers and buyers. Marketing and promotional support, 1-2-1 business advice, signposting support services, advice about grants and funding options and a range of networking events will connect independent producers and hospitality venues to the right experts, advisers and foodie peers that will ensure their businesses can thrive.
Keen to help
PINK’s Boost Your Business project officer, Beckie Alves, declares:
“I have been working with local producers for the past five years, and I cannot wait to help them with the Boost Your Business programme, offering free business support. I have seen a lot of the challenges they face first hand and I truly believe in a localised food system, which I have been championing via my work with Kent Food Hubs and running local farmers markets. Working with Produced in Kent really is a wonderful opportunity to be able to take this further, benefitting the producers who work so hard in a very difficult climate.”
Russ Jaques from Smokey Rebel, a food and drink start-up business from Challock, comments:
“I am really excited to be given the opportunity to be part of the Boost Your Business programme. There are areas of my business that I need help with, so this support is coming at a great time. With the help of Produced in Kent our business will be more visible to customers and potential buyers.”
Taking over from “Help Kent, Buy Local”
The two-year Boost Your Business programme follows on from the very successful pandemic support programme, Help Kent Buy Local campaign which ran in 2020/21. It championed Kent and Medway’s food and drink producers and outlets that remained operational during the pandemic. More than that, it helped feed and water the resident population for many months, after supply chains to the big retailers failed.
If you are a small food and drink business operating in Kent, and you wish to hear more about the Boost Your Business programme, please contact Beckie Alves.