Growth Hub support for Food and Drink sector is a recipe for growth22 March 2021
Food and drink producers have had to adapt and diversify over the last 12 months in order to survive.
Food delivery, selling online or takeaway services are a few examples of changes to business models made necessary by the pandemic. There has also been an increase in people buying local produce and cooking at home.
The Growth Hub for Leicester and Leicestershire understands this has meant a steep learning curve for many businesses. They have had to get to grips with digital technology, social media and additional safety requirements while at the same time trying to continue trading. To support producers and manufacturers, the Growth Hub, with delivery partners The Food and Drink Forum, has created a no-cost programme of support that runs to December 2021.
Andrew Collinson, Commercial Manager from The Food and Drink Forum commented: “We have been working closely with Leicester and Leicestershire businesses over the past 12 months, gathering crucial feedback. We’ve taken that feedback and developed a programme of interactive workshops focusing on the core areas businesses have asked for support in. We urge food and drink businesses to make the most of this fantastic opportunity and come to the workshops which are all delivered by industry experts. There will be lots of opportunities for new collaborations as well as practical insights.”
The Growth Hub will help producers understand consumer buying habits, expand their product range, sell through an online shop or diversify into new areas. Seven themes have been identified as critical for the survival and growth of food and drink businesses in a post-Covid era and these will be examined in detail during the webinar series:
- Selling online – developing digital marketing, e-commerce and food photography skills, plus creating a structured marketing plan to maximise online sales.
- Finance – grants, investment, managing cashflow and understanding how to do financial planning.
- Diversification – how to plan for new markets, conduct market and consumer research (including flavour trends) and taking a new product or service from concept to launch.
- Supply chain management – reviewing current processes to ensure the flow of goods, meeting customer delivery standards and the importance of control and governance.
- Labelling and packaging – meeting legal requirements and protecting product integrity plus learning about how to stand out on the shelf.
- Business continuity and resilience – developing strategic thinking as well as policies and procedures to prepare for the unexpected.
- Workforce management – strategies for adapting and dealing with the challenges faced when planning new services and making changes in the workplace.
Rajal Rajpra, Business Manager from Gokul Foods, has been supported by Growth Hub adviser Joanna Moore to develop her vegetarian catering business, specialising in Indian sweets and snacks. She said: “With support I’ve created a structured plan of action to achieve my business goals and help my business grow. I was able to understand what I needed to improve and research to get the results I wanted. Jo is very approachable and was on-hand to guide and resolve obstacles to my business success. The help I’ve received has been second to none.”
Growth Hub Manager, Jon Egley added: “I am amazed by the innovation and speed with which local food and drink businesses have adapted during this pandemic. They are the reason this sector will remain strong in Leicester and Leicestershire.
“This funded programme is about building them up further during 2021 and working with them to fill any gaps in their knowledge, both through webinars and specialist advice. I’d encourage local entrepreneurs to get involved just like Rajal has, network with like-minded people and help future-proof their business.”