New funding will help group promote local produce

Eat Drink Hebrides, the regional food group that aims to grow a thriving food and drink network for the islands, has secured funding to champion local produce.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:23 am
Extra cash to promote local produce

The group, which is made up of a diverse group of more than 50 members including producers, hospitality and food tourism businesses, is receiving the funding from industry leadership body, Scotland Food & Drink.

The new funding is part of a new national £250k fund, supported by the Scottish Government, to support the ongoing development of Scotland’s regional food groups.

Founded in 2016, Eat Drink Hebrides consists of a food and drink trail from Barra to Butt of Lewis with a big focus on food tourism. The fund will help the group bridge the gap from a trail to a fully operating regional food group.

The Hebrides are well-known both across Scotland and internationally for the quality of its food and drink offering and boasts Stornoway Black Pudding, which has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.

The islands are also well known for their seafood, particularly shellfish, as well as the rising number of island distilleries in Barra, Harris and North Uist.

The fund will benefit 15 groups across the country by resourcing coordinator posts and will include match-funding from partners including local authorities. It aims to create an active network of regional ambassadors who work in conjunction with local authorities to promote regional food and drink and tourism strategies.

Regional food groups like Eat Drink Hebrides plan and deliver projects such as increasing consumption and supply of local produce; upskilling food and drink businesses; hosting events; improving digital developments and e-commerce with local companies and, crucially, developing food and drink tourism.

Rob McKinnon, Manager at Eat Drink Hebrides, said: “Island communities have a long reputation for self-reliance. Local food is continuing that tradition and extending a heritage that goes back through the generations – be that crofting or fishing.

“The new coordinator funding from Scotland Food & Drink is hugely important for Eat Drink Hebrides. We are thrilled not only with the financial clarity it gives our activities over the next twelve months, but it also helps overcome barriers to collaboration which is challenging given our geography on three different island groups.”

Fiona Richmond, at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Regional food groups like Eat Drink Hebrides have a pivotal role to play in the successful growth and development of our country’s food, drink and food tourism sectors, especially in the recovery from Covid-19.

“With a combination of both long-established groups, those which are more recently formed, and some which are brand new, Scotland’s diverse mix of regional food groups all have energy, ambition and a commitment to championing their areas. With this new funding, our aim is to build a strong network of groups and give them the recognition and backing they deserve.”