Market Development Scheme Worth £9.2 Million In Food And Drink Sales
20th May 2007
Highlands and Islands food and drink producers have attributed £9.2 million of new sales to events and exhibitions organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), through its UK Market Development programme.
A recent evaluation of the programme commissioned by HIE has demonstrated that bringing together food and drink producers and buyers is an effective way for speciality companies in the Highlands and Islands to do business.
The programme's tailored range of events gives companies the opportunity to meet with buyers from key customers at informal business meetings, events and exhibitions.
Companies get an opportunity to see what type of products the buyer is looking for, gaining a better understanding of the business they are targeting. In some cases an event can even help a company decide not to pursue the lead if they don't fit the buyer's profile.
The evaluation confirmed that orders secured by participating companies were forecast to generate additional sales of up to £9.2 million over the next four years.
Ninety-five per cent of the businesses interviewed felt that participating in the programme was beneficial in other ways, such as networking with other businesses and learning more about the target business.
Ross Higgs of Orkney Food Company said: "The learning journey organised by HIE gave us good insight into Dobbies' and Waitrose's operations. Although we currently trade with both these companies, being able to understand the business first hand has been a great asset. We can now drive our business to meet their requirements and also ensure that we support their business strategy".
The advantage of networking was also highlighted by a number of respondents, particularly smaller, rural and island based food and drink businesses. Jill Clark of Connage Dairy in Ardersier, World Cheese Awards Gold Winner 2007, said: "As a young business, we are now at the stage where we are ready to develop new markets. Going to the buyer briefing with Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh, gave us a great chance to gain insight into what that company was looking for in terms of its suppliers. It allowed us to meet up with like-minded businesses, at different stages of growth, and we now feel more confident to approach key buyers. The networking opportunity was excellent."
Mark Georgeson, HIE's senior food and drink development manager said: "It's fantastic to see such positive outcomes from the programme. The range of marketing opportunities includes meet the buyer events, producer showcases and learning journeys, but most importantly the programme helps small businesses get access to buyers who they would otherwise struggle to meet.
"Businesses taking part in the programme see real benefit in these events, but also in meeting small businesses in similar positions to themselves. As working relationships develop over time, each inspires confidence in the other.
"By participating under the Scottish Food and Drink banner, trade exhibitions provide a great platform for a strong regional identity which is attractive to the buyers. The collective approach is also very attractive to these buyers who are looking to maximise the great marketing potential of the region in their outlets.
"The Highlands and Islands tell a tremendous story and, more significantly, we can back that up with the production of high quality products which are in tune with the environment".
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