After many months of planning and coordination, Food and Drink North East we’re honoured to host a strong delegation of representatives from the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on a two day programme of activities. A packed schedule, targeted at improving SME engagement between the North East region and national government, included a region wide tour of food and drink businesses as well as a sector focussed roundtable lunch including the Food and Drink Federation CEO, Ian Wright, as well as other important stakeholders from from across the supply chain such as artisan producers, processors, logisticians and hospitality leaders.
The tour started in Darlington talking to MYCO Foods about the future of plant based innovation before heading to Sunderland to meet the long established Fullwell Mill, specialist organic and Fairtrade bar manufacturers, who shared their challenges post-Brexit.
The delegation then headed to Gateshead to visit the region’s standout and only urban winery, Laneberg Wines, followed by a trip across the River Tyne to Byker based FYTO Food, vertical farming specialists to talk innovation in farming and improving access to local food.
A busy day ended in Northumberland with a quick stop at micro-business Meraki Cacao, producer of raw cacao bars. before visiting the Simonside moors under the dark skies of Northumberland, kindly hosted by Hepple Spirits. The following day, our guests from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs were joined by the Food and Drink Federation and the Department for International Trade, at a sector roundtable sponsored by Greggs and hosted at the iconic Cafe 21. The roundtable focused on the core themes of innovation, investment in skills and access to funding all encapsulated in a consensus that food and drink needs to play a strong strategic role in the future of the regional economy.
This two day programme of activity was an important opportunity for FADNE to ensure that the collective voice of the North East is heard on a national level, providing a platform where businesses, large and small, feel like they can influence the future direction of the industry.
Chris Jewitt, CEO of FADNE said “This was an intense two days of activity and I’d like to thank all involved within the FADNE team for delivering such a strong and inclusive programme ensuring that all voices, from Teesside to Northumberland, were given a chance to be listened to. As a rapidly growing trade organisation, we absolutely must represent value to our community and ensure that we can continue to influence at a regional and national level.