Buoyant food and drink producers head to the Netherlands

Food and drink producers from the eastern region are taking a buoyant approach to Brexit and joining a trade mission to the Netherlands.

Fourteen companies ranging from gin distillers to chocolate producers are joining Norfolk & Suffolk Unlimited’s inward investment and business growth team to exhibit at Horecava, one of the largest trade shows of its kind in Europe.

The event takes place in Amsterdam from 13 to 16 January and the mostly small companies are heading there with pride in the quality of their products and a view to expanding into the Netherlands and beyond.

Last year saw the first delegation from this region to the famous catering and hospitality conference and this year’s event will provide an opportunity to highlight Norfolk & Suffolk Unlimited – the new brand which promotes the area as a leading business location.

Agri-food is one of the key sectors being highlighted by the campaign, along with clean energy and ICT/digital, and the message to businesses at Horecava will be that it is the UK’s leading region for food and drink production.   

The trade mission has the backing of the Department for International Trade and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Doug Field, chair of New Anglia LEP, said: “Norfolk & Suffolk is a haven for global food and drink brands and artisan producers. Agriculture is part of our region’s past, present and future, so it’s little surprise that so many national and international brands choose to call our region home.

“As well as major names like Kettle and Adnams, we have lots of small businesses which are producing top quality food and drink and want to expand their reach, Brexit or no Brexit, and we are here to support them.”

Norfolk & Suffolk produces an incredible 11% of the UK’s food and drink and is its most productive and profitable farming area, with a substantial and experienced supply chain. The sector is a significant contributor to the UK economy with trade in food, drink and agriculture worth £3.5 billion.

It is a food lover's paradise with a strong agricultural heritage and a long history of innovation, much of it intertwined with Dutch know-how. The area is award-winning in sugar, cider, wine, beer, chocolate, potatoes, poultry and pork production.

The brands exhibiting (Hall 07 stand 453) are: Adnams, Barn Farm Drinks, Chet & Waveney Valley Vineyard, Dinoshakes, Fresh Pod, Freshpac, Harris & James, Hunter And Gather, IBC Simply, Savoursmiths, St Giles Gin, Taste Of Suffolk, The Pickle House, and Wildcraft Brewery.

John and Bridget Hemmant, proprietors of Chet & Waveney Valley Vineyard in south Norfolk, are taking their sparkling wines to Horecava with a view to expanding into the Netherlands.

“I would like to have our wines represented in some of the bars and high-end restaurants in Amsterdam or find a friendly distributor to take us on,” said Mr Hemmant.

“There is a lot of interest in English wine now. The supermarkets are pretty good at taking us on and the quality is excellent. The grape clones we use are so much better now and there is more expertise in the country.”

In 2019 the region made its first trade mission to the Netherlands led by the East’s investment team, resulting in substantial interest and business leads for the local producers.

This year represents an opportunity to showcase not only the amazing food and drink being produced in the area but the role it is playing in groundbreaking developments in the agri-tech sector.

Our scientists are working at the leading edge of new discoveries and technologies in areas such as precision farming, animal health, crop disease control and prevention, and food in human health.  

World-class research organisations on the Norwich Research Park, including the John Innes Centre, Earlham Institute, The Sainsbury Laboratory and Quadram Institute, are supporting the work to commercialise the latest knowledge in gene editing, AI, data science, robotics and marine science.

You can read more about Norfolk and Suffolk’s food, drink and agriculture sector at www.norfolksuffolkunlimited.co.uk/sector/agri-food


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