Great Cornish Food – Raising the Bar

Ruth Huxley, founder of Cornwall Food & Drink and the Great Cornish Food Store, explains how a new initiative is helping our agri-food and fishing businesses become best in class

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The food and drink industry across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is an economic powerhouse boasting an annual turnover of more than £2 billion.

With our Great Cornish Food – Raising the Bar programme we aim to build on the success and resilience of this vital sector, which accounts for almost one in five jobs west of the Tamar.

We also want to showcase to the world everything that is brilliant about the great produce from the peninsula and the islands.

The programme has been created thanks to an investment of more than £500,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme, which is managed by Cornwall Council and funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Our project launched in March this year and is being delivered by our team at the Great Cornish Food Store in Truro.

We have hit the ground running at a crucial time. The food and drink industry faces headwinds in the shape of subsidy reform, the need to decarbonise and cost pressures.

We want our agri-food and fishing businesses to be the best in class and our project aims to achieve this by showcasing, sustaining and evolving the sector in a new and engaging way, delivered by people in the industry, for the industry.

So how are we doing this?

Under our development plan, we are helping new businesses to find their feet – and helping established businesses to develop – by accessing the right expertise, becoming more efficient and productive, reaching the right customers and finding the right people.

We can help all levels of business access professional help from some of the best in their field to crystallise ideas, fill knowledge gaps or just act as a sounding board.

A large chunk of the project’s budget is being invested straight into businesses via our easy-access small grants programme which is already fully allocated.

We are creating the brand new Great Cornish Food Awards to shine a light on those who excel in ways that really matter, recognising the standard-bearers and sharing the secrets of their success.

We are developing a Great Cornish Food Academy, to inspire budding food entrepreneurs and attract new talent into the industry, including showcasing the range of career opportunities available to the next generation as well as older people considering a career change.

And we are bringing the industry closer together with a defined purpose. Prior to closing on April 1 this year, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership commissioned a farming, fisheries and food insights report which will help shape food strategy and investment across the county and islands.

To help us develop this strategy we are creating an industry-led Food Board to ensure the effective direct participation of businesses across the sector.

So we say to anyone who runs a food, drink, farming or fishing business in Cornwall and Scilly or is thinking of setting one up – we can help you in many ways.

We can help you find and keep the right people, pay them better, find new markets, build your brand, tread more lightly on the planet, receive the recognition you deserve and improve your bottom line.

And we can help you become more green and clean.  Cornwall has all the tools to forge ahead in the race against climate change and to become a leader in the low-impact food systems the world desperately needs.

Great Cornish Food is promoting local pioneers in net zero and regenerative farming, sustainable fishing, conservation, biodiversity and circular economies.

We can show you the opportunities that renewable energy generation, new technologies and space exploration can provide for food, drink, farming and fishing and offer you the right connections to make it happen.

If you are – or know of – a food, drink, fishing or farming business in Cornwall or Scilly and you would like to know more about how to benefit from our sector development programme, we would love to hear from you.

You can contact us at bepartofit@greatcornishfood.co.uk. For more information go to www.cornwallfoodanddrink.co.uk.

This article first appeared in the June 2024 issue of Business Cornwall magazine.