Plans to build on Leicestershire’s £600 million food and drink economy are swinging into action.

Business support organisation The Food and Drink Forum is co-ordinating the drawing up of a strategy to help ensure that Leicestershire has the place it deserves on the UK’s food and drink map.

The Forum is working on a blueprint to fly the flag for Leicestershire food and drink products, help businesses in the sector to grow and develop, and to create tourism and promotional opportunities linked to food and drink.

And it is launching the initiative by asking those closest to the industry – those who run food and drink businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire –what they need to help drive forward the food and drink economy of the city and the county.

Two consultation events are being staged later this month to gauge opinions and help shape the strategy to ensure that Leicestershire is regarded as a centre of excellence for food and drink in the future.

“The Food and Drink Forum aims to work closely with local producers, restaurateurs, retailers and hospitality companies to create a strategy and action plan that will help develop food and drink networks, support skills and training activities, and encourage business and infrastructure development, along with promoting healthy eating,” said Food and Drink Forum operations manager Briony Clarke.

“These two business consultation events will be an important first step in canvassing views of those working in the industry locally, and we are very keen to hear from as many as possible who would like to attend.

“A great deal of effort has been put in by many organisations and individuals over several years to ensure that Leicestershire has a successful and vibrant food and drink sector. This strategy will build on past work, current initiatives, and drive the sector forward. ”

The events run between 5pm and 7pm on Wednesday 29th September at Beaumanor Hall, Woodhouse, near Loughborough, and at Flamingo Bar & Grill, Loughborough Road, Leicester, on Thursday 30th September, and include a networking supper.

Leicestershire has a rich heritage when it comes to food and drink, with a diverse mix of rural and city-based producers and manufacturers of differing sizes. It is home to many household names like United Biscuits, Walkers, Pukka Pies and Everards, as well as producers of ethnic foods, artisan items and traditional products. Some are recognised around the world, and others have a very strong regional identity, such as Stilton and Melton Mowbray pork pies. Melton Mowbray is branded as the UK rural capital of food.

The Food and Drink Forum is drawing up the strategy on behalf of the Leicester and Leicestershire Multi-Area Agreement (MAA) Partnership, with support from the Leicestershire Rural Partnership (LRP).

Established in 1998, the Food and Drink Forum is a membership-led organisation that stimulates and supports the sustainable development of the sector in the East Midlands. It is run by a team of food industry professionals who have first hand knowledge of a wide range of business issues, including logistics, business development, sales and marketing. It has a Board of industry owner/managers.

The consultation events are open to those running businesses across the sector in Leicester and Leicestershire. For more information and to book a place call 0115 9758810 or visit