South West Scotland

South West Scotland Regional Food Groups
(Ayrshire, Arran and Dumfries & Galloway)

We plan and deliver projects including increasing the consumption and supply of local produce; upskilling food and drink businesses; hosting events; improve digital developments and e-commerce and food tourism.

You were awarded funding from Scotland Food & Drink in 2020. What have you used this funding for so far and how has it helped the development of the region’s food and drink?

This has been done to date by the coordinators facilitating collaboration between the areas food and drink enterprises, local authorities and other stakeholders.

We have created a regionwide virtual drop-in centre, as we know the last 12 months has been tough on the sector with feelings of isolation. This informal online chat was held monthly to share problems, thoughts and solutions but most importantly held under Chatham House rules. This has now been paused due to Covid restrictions easing and workload by the businesses increasing. To replace the drop-in we have set up a private Facebook group, this has been formed by the regional food group coordinators for the South West of Scotland along with the food and drink leads for the local authorities to establish a strong collaborative network for food, drink and hospitality businesses. We are fully aware how challenging the food and drink industry can be, so we hope that this group can provide support, networking and collaboration opportunities along with problem solving or perhaps opportunities to streamline supply chains. We will also utilise the platform to share information regarding training, funding and also most importantly ask you for views.

This group will also offer the opportunity to keep members updated on the proposed Food and Drink Centre of Excellence funded by the Ayrshire Growth Deal and the proposed Dairy Innovation Centre, Dumfries funded by the Borderlands Growth Deal. We know the last 12 months has been tough and there is still so much uncertainty about. We also realise that a lot of members may be feeling particularly isolated. And of course lockdown has meant that we aren't getting out to meet businesses but hopefully this will change in the coming months.

Who has benefited from these initiatives and are there any stand-out success stories?

The coordinators meet monthly with senior council representatives from across the region benefiting the enterprises they represent by giving them a voice.

Food and drink enterprises across the region have also benefited from networking opportunities from collaborative exercises including the virtual drop-in centre, virtual farmers market, agritourism briefing.

What are your goals and plans for 2021?

Build on the work that has been started in particular continuing to develop awareness of Agritourism opportunities, introducing a pilot mentoring programme the idea for which came out the first drop in chat.

We as a team are engaging with colleges, Food and Drink Federation Scotland, Local Authority representatives and businesses to ensure the correct learning opportunities are available that the food and drink sector requires.

How can others support what you do, and ensure the local region continues to thrive?

Having all stakeholders and businesses continued engagement.

Great early progress has been made in setting the foundations for the 3 Southwest regional food groups. There are further fantastic opportunities that can be delivered if the groups are able to continue beyond the initial 12 months.

Find out more about the groups by visiting their websites below:

Arran's Food Journey

Ayrshire Food Network

Dumfries & Galloway Food and Drink Forum