Aberdeen/shire business growth programme catalyses growth in ambitious food and drink producers

Food and drink producers from across North East Scotland have secured contracts with national distributors, scaled up production, diversified product ranges, and accelerated their growth plans through their participation in the bespoke business growth programme led by private sector economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE).

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Twelve food and drink producers from across the region were selected for the 2018 programme, which began in March and comprised an intensive four months of workshops and practice, including support from industry experts and access to buyers. The participating businesses in 2018 range from a nut butter producer, to dairy farms, to traditional ice cream, and five brewers and distillers.

The ONE Food & Drink Business Growth Programme (BGP) was launched in 2017 and is designed for owners and managers of food and drink businesses with growth potential. It is led by ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture and supported by Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council.

The 2018 participants were:

Blackford Craft Distillery


Devenick Dairy

Forest Farm Organic Dairy

Granny Bakes

Hungry Squirrel

Kincardine Kitchen

Lost Loch Distillery

Portsoy Ice Cream

Six Degrees North

Teasmith Gin

Wark Farm

The companies have experienced workshops, connection to the wide range of support and advice, a best practice visit to the UK’s leading, independent, added-value food ingredients manufacturer Macphie, and one-to-one coaching by sector specialists. This has culminated in the businesses creating individual growth plans with a focus on new products, new markets and securing new retail and food service listings to increase turnover, create new jobs and accelerate their growth.  The aim is to give the participants the vision and confidence to believe that they can build much bigger businesses.

The businesses will now receive mentoring support from selected experience food and drink industry leaders and be assisted with access to specialist advice to help them realise their growth ambitions and plans.

Patrick Machray OBE, Chair of ONE’s Food, Drink & Agriculture Board, said: “This programme aims to give young or smaller food and drink businesses the practical support to realise their growth ambitions. Growing our food, drink and agriculture sector is an essential part of the long term economic diversification that ONE, and our partners, are pursuing. Supporting food and drink producers to grow faster through innovation and market development is key to achieving this. The intensive programme has enabled the 2018 companies to develop action plans to increase their turnover and scale up, and we’ll now support them with ongoing mentoring and access to specialist advice to maintain the pace.”

As a significant part of North East Scotland’s economy, growth in food, drink and agriculture productivity, national and international market development, and product innovation are priorities for ONE within the wider context of diversifying the regional economy.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said: “The food and drink production sector has been a major player in the north east economy for a number of years now and local businesses continue to produce innovative and interesting products which have appeal far beyond our area.

“Providing support to business growth and development programmes such as this is just one way Aberdeenshire Council can assist and encourage them to reach new markets, develop new products and so improve their businesses, to the benefit of the whole area. Aberdeenshire, already world renowned for its agriculture and fishing industries, is increasingly becoming very well known for some of its excellent food and drink brands and it’s great to see this diversification of the economy and to be able to offer assistance with that.”

Councillor Jenny Laing, Co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “It’s clear that local food and drink businesses have benefitted greatly from participating in the ONE food and drink Business Growth programme as it has given them the opportunity to scale up production, secure national contracts and diversify their product range.   One of our key economic objectives is to encourage and support the diversification of the regional economy and this is a great example of how Aberdeen City Council can work in partnership with the private sector to make this happen.”

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