The numbers behind the food and drink sector in Cornwall are phenomenal, and it’s not just about pasties and cream teas. There is a vibrant community of market aware entrepreneurs who are bringing their talents to bear on product development and delivery. To understand the scale of this revolution, it is worth delving deeper into the sector to understand the size and scale.

Worth circa £2 billion to the local economy, it is the employment sector of choice for over 60,000 inhabitants of Cornwall – that equates to one in three jobs.

The county is home to around 3,000 food and drink businesses, each helping to service the 80% of tourists who state food is a reason for choosing Cornwall as a destination and also the remaining 20% who will still need feeding!

Just a glance at some of our Cornish producer pin ups tells us that we are good with food. Tarquin’s claiming ‘best gin in the world’, Doom Bar being the country’s top ale in both value and volume, Michelin stars, Camel Valley’s twice world beating sparking rose and the world supreme Cornish blue cheese. You’ll find three Michelin starred restaurants and 30 Michelin recommended restaurants in Cornwall – and we all know Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth.

None of this is a reason though to rest on our laurels.

Times are likely to be tougher for businesses in the next year, with food and drink producers affected by a range of external factors that will make the next 18 months particularly challenging.

Reports suggest that in the nine months post Brexit that UK food exports to the EU had fallen by a value of £2.4 billion, or a 25% contraction and the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine impacting supply chains and prices. The time is right to offer high quality, targeted support for the sector and make good on potential opportunities.

Consumers are calling for more ethical and sustainable options alongside more consumers considering health implications too, the growth of vegan and plant derived lifestyles show no signs of slowing. There is also clearly a movement towards higher quality ingredients and brands that make good on that consumer demand are likely to succeed.

There has been a 40% growth in the number of vegans in the UK in the last 12 months, with vegans and vegetarians earmarked to be 25% of UK population by 2025. The UK meat alternative market value is predicted to reach north of £700 million by 2026, whilst healthy snacking continues to see the most prolific growth in the food to go sector. Other growth opportunities can be seen in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) market, with growth akin to ten years’ worth of momentum in just three months at the start of the pandemic. It means that consumers have real choice online and away from the traditional retailers. And it’s not just for the significant number of starts, you’ll even find the likes of Heinz selling online too.

Gone are the days of pure focus on retail listings too, D2C opportunities are available to everyone and allow businesses to better control their margins – platforms like Shopify make it simple to set up and get going in ecommerce too. During the pandemic, the online share of overall consumer expenditure has accelerated from 18% to over 30% in the first three months of 2020.  The value of online grocery shopping rose by over £10 billion during the pandemic, with this set to stay even though shoppers have in begun returning to the shop floor. Pre-pandemic, food subscription boxes market value were expected to reach around £1.5 billion a year, but this has been further increased with those businesses benefiting from a near 30% rise in daily web traffic since covid began.

Different product categories, different routes to market, changing consumer tastes and changing consumer behaviour mean there is a need for continued sector development. Food and Drink Cornwall can help food and drink producers in Cornwall to make the most of these opportunities.

Get in touch today, via the website, to access funded support in collaboration with River Cottage to keep ahead of the game.

This Cornwall Council and UK Community Renewal funded project has limited availability and spaces are filling fast.