Food and drink businesses across the Marches are being provided with specialist support to help smaller, new and novice exporters break into international markets.
A new cluster group – overseen by a specialist adviser – is being formed to bring together small and large food and drink businesses in a Marches-wide network so that companies can work with each other and with one local on-the-ground contact.
Food and drink businesses who are new to export and those already trading overseas will be supported to target new export markets to help their sales grow.
A new specialist food and drink adviser for the sector has been appointed to cover the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership region, working with Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber along with the Department for International Trade (DIT).
David Caine will work to connect businesses within the Marches Cluster to work together to share their knowledge and experience as well to help businesses enter new overseas markets and develop their export sales.
David, who has more than 15 years’ experience working in the food industry and exporting, says food and drink plays a key part in the economy of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
"My role recognises the importance of this sector to our region and I want to help as many food and drink businesses as possible develop new routes into overseas markets by identifying and investigating international opportunities.
"I will also be working to develop more collaboration between all food and drink businesses so that they can share their knowledge, learn from each other and develop and forge new connections. I want to hear their concerns and challenges so that I can act as a voice for them and address the specific needs of the industry.
"By strengthening the amount of collaboration across the region we can work with companies to develop not only their international markets but also grow in the UK as well."
David said the new food and drink cluster would be officially launched at a special event on December 2 and that a range of workshops, advice sessions and networking opportunities would follow.
Mandy Thorn, chair of the Marches LEP, welcomed the appointment and said it demonstrated the way the LEP worked with partners such as DIT and the Chamber of Commerce to bring real help and support to businesses.
"The food and drink sector supports more than 9,000 jobs across the Marches in companies of all shapes and sizes, from international brands such as Heineken in Hereford and Muller in Shropshire and Telford, to the vast array of smaller artisan producers for which the region is famous.
"This new post is part of a wider team of specialist DIT ITA advisers working across the Marches to ensure the region is seizing the opportunities for international trade which are opening up.
"By working with our partners, we want to give all our food and drink businesses the best possible chance of success in this fast-changing world."
David, who will be based with Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, can be contacted on 07593 562050 or at [email protected]
To register for the launch event on December 2 visit: https://www.events.great.gov.uk/ehome/index.php?eventid=200215246&