Improved digital marketing, better international relations and more collaboration between businesses are among the benefits that have been seen during a three year project to enhance the food and drink industry in Somerset.
The thriving Somerset food and drink industry has been bolstered over the past three years by a European funded project called “Fish and Chips”. The project has helped food and drink producers boost their business in a number of ways.
Businesses from Belgium and the Netherlands visited the county and discovered Somerset’s diverse and delicious food and drink offering. Local businesses from Somerset, including brewers and cheese-makers also visited their continental counterparts and returned full of ideas for collaborative projects.
In 2013 one such project helped promote the cider and apple juice that Somerset is famous for. The Somerset Cider Map involved 24 local cider and apple juice makers working together to highlight where residents and visitors could find the best cider and apple juice in the county.
Local food and drink producers have also been helped to improve their online presence, keeping them up-to-date with the fast moving world of e-commerce.
Over 50 Somerset businesses in the food and drink industry attended digital workshops, giving them a chance to learn more about using social media to reach new customers, and discovered the value of having a website to promote their products.
Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investments and Policy, said: “This project was all about collaboration with our European friends and colleagues and developing relationships that can be continued now that the project has come to an end. Great achievements have been celebrated and opportunities for growth have been identified through this project which is important because the food and drink industry is essential to Somerset’s economy. Leading on this project has truly highlighted the council’s commitment to improving business opportunities in the county.”
A video about the project is available to watch below
FISH & CHIPS was a European funded Interreg project involving a network of six food regions: The Flemish provinces West Flanders, East Flanders and Antwerp, the Dutch region of Zeeland; and the English regions of Somerset and South East England. The Project ran from late 2011 to Sept 2014.
In Somerset, Somerset County Council managed and administered the Fish & Chips Project. The main benefits seen from the project include:
- 50 businesses helped through digital marketing training
- One to one strategic and tactical marketing support for 7 companies
- Two trips from overseas producers to see Somerset producers
- Five trips for Somerset producers to Belgium
- Production of the Somerset Cider Map – http://somersetcidermap.wordpress.com/
- Creation of the Somerset Brewers Association and website – http://www.somersetbrewers.com/
- Somerset beer boxes piloted as Christmas promotion
- Distribution models and toolkits from across the Region disseminated
- ‘Open for business’ across Somerset with taste events and taste academies
- Somerset Cheese award and the ‘Somerset Toastie’ competition
- Local food box for accommodation providers marketed