Local companies, operating in the food and drink sector along the Borders Railway corridor, have been showcasing the best of the area’s cuisine to more than 100 buyers at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.
The event was part of a new campaign, ‘Borders Rail More Connected’ to promote opportunities for businesses, investment and employment in the railway catchment area.
It was funded by the Borders Railway Blueprint Inward Investment Group and was supported by the local food and drink advisory service, Connect Local and Scotland Food & Drink.
It brought together, for the first time, suppliers based in the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh to showcase their produce to retailers, hoteliers and restaurateurs committed to using local produce. Phil Dibsdale, inward investment manager for the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, said: “The Borders Railway is about being more connected. Not just the obvious transport connections but also connecting businesses to new markets and talent; connecting entrepreneurs to new opportunities; and linking people to jobs and the countryside to the city.
“This event is about connecting local but ambitious food and drink producers, who are making healthy and fresh produce that consumers want to eat, with buyers from the hospitality sector.
“We’ve had over 100 buyers attend, which helps to demonstrate the real strength and depth of the food and drink sector in the region and why it’s a great place to do business. We are confident that each of the 30 suppliers who have showcased their produce has made worth-while and long lasting connections.”
The Scottish food and drink industry is worth £14.4 billion. More than 119,000 people are working directly in the industry and food manufacturing in Scotland is growing at twice the rate of the UK average for the sector.
Fiona Richmond, of Scotland Food & Drink, added: “If you’re from this area, you know you’ll always have great food at your fingertips. From Born in the Borders and Tempest Brewery in the Borders to Mighty Leaf Tea in Midlothian and Mara Seaweed in Edinburgh, we’re extremely lucky.
“But unfortunately for many of those living outwith the region it’s probably all a bit of a mystery. But that is starting to change, thanks to our ongoing Borders Railway investment project, which is helping to attract more attention from larger corporate Edinburgh based retailers, caterers and wholesalers.
“We know from research that there is a greater consumer demand to buy and taste local produce so we’re hoping that this event will show that the area is open for business and will help to develop closer links between suppliers and buyers.”