The zones aim to foster a network of new food hubs across England, in a bid to boost food industry employment, support tourism and inject investment into rural communities. Stretching from Cumbria to Cornwall the 17 FEZs will attract investment and add millions to our growing rural economy, she said.
Speaking at the first meeting of representatives from the zones yesterday (July 2), Truss said: “Food Enterprise Zones will unleash food entrepreneurs, bringing together researchers, farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers so they can improve productivity and spark new ideas off each other all the way along the supply chain from farm to fork, from lab to lunch.”
Championing iconic British foods – such as the Melton Mowbray pork pie, stilton cheese and Norfolk pork – the hubs have been awarded a share of £830,000 funding to help fast-track the expansion of food and farming businesses in the regions.
Expansion of food and farming businesses
“Our food and farming industry is an economic powerhouse, now worth more than £100bn a year and employing one in eight people,” said Truss. “We want to build on that so food and farming becomes a top destination for high-flying graduates, is as prestigious as medicine, as fun and stimulating as the gaming industry and as cutting-edge as London’s Tech City.”
FEZ plans feature a new Artisanal Food Village in Cornwall, an agri-food park near Malton in North Yorkshire, and a cluster of local artisan food producers around the River Orwell in Suffolk.
“We want to build on that so food and farming becomes a top destination for high-flying graduates, is as prestigious as medicine, as fun and stimulating as the gaming industry and as cutting-edge as London’s Tech City.”
- Liz Truss
Three zones in East Anglia alone were set to create thousands of new jobs through expanding existing food businesses and developing new ones, claimed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair (DEFRA).
Suffolk Food Hall
Businesses involved included: Jimmy’s Farm, part of the new Orwell Food Cluster in Babergh, along with the Suffolk Food Hall and the East of England Co-operative Society.
The initiative aimed to make it easier for businesses to grow and bring different parts of the food supply chain together. FEZs will ensure greater collaboration between rural businesses, kick-start local food economies and help people develop new skills, said DEFRA.
Fionagh and Richard Harding of Norton Barton Farm, one of the businesses set to benefit from a new FEZ in Cornwall, said: “It’s particularly good news for Bude and North Cornwall where employment is focused around tourism and agriculture. We hope that we will be able to encourage new entrants into the food industry.”
Meanwhile for the latest jobs in food and drink manufacturing visit FoodManJobs.
Food and farming fact file
- Biggest manufacturing sector in Britain, worth more than cars and aerospace combined.
- In 2013 entrepreneurs set up 30,000 new food and drink businesses generating thousands of jobs in the sector
- 16,000 new products to the market each year—more than France and Germany combined and second only to the US
- Exports of UK food and drink booming with nearly £19bn worth shipped to 214 countries worldwide
- UK government opened more than 600 new international markets supporting more businesses to sell their produce abroad since 2010