Local sourcing initiatives, making the most of food and drink linked to tourism in Leicestershire’s market towns, the provision of food grade production units and an increase in vocationally led learning are some of the key recommendations to emerge in a blueprint drawn up to help develop Leicester and Leicestershire’s £600 million food and drink economy.

The ideas are just some of the suggestions included in a draft strategy created to ensure that the city and county have the place they deserve on the UK’s food and drink map.

Commissioned by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), the strategy has been drawn up by East Midlands business support organisation The Food and Drink Forum in conjunction with the European Food and Farming Partnerships (EFFP).

They consulted the city and county’s food and drink firms, and have come up with a string of ideas which are aimed at helping local food, drink and farming businesses grow and develop.

The draft strategy was unveiled at The Royal Oak, Kirby Muxloe, to more than 50 guests where Stephen Gould, managing director of Leicestershire brewery Everards launched details of a local sourcing pilot scheme that the company plans to trial.

Mr Gould said: “We can act as a conduit for food manufacturers and food processors in Leicestershire to sell their food in our pubs. We want to work in a few of our pubs with several local food producers and manufacturers and blend their ideas onto our pub menus.

“We need to work out how to get the food to the pubs and manage the whole supply chain but I think it’s do-able and we can do it.”

The firm plans a trial in six Everards pubs. It also hopes to provide space for artisan producers and retailers, such as bakers, farm shops and delis, at its premises in line with a similar scheme it has run for micro-brewers.

“This isn’t pipe dream stuff. We want to move forward with our trial,” added Mr Gould.

At the event, held for invited guests who had helped to shape the draft strategy through group and individual consultations which involved farmers, manufacturers, restaurants and hotels, the audience was given an outline of the conclusions and recommendations.

Event delegates were invited for their feedback, before the final copy of the strategy is drawn up.

Gill Smitherman, Programme Manager at LLEP, said the next steps were to finalise and publish the strategy, establish a Leicester and Leicestershire food and drink group, prioritise delivery of the key recommendations, identify key delivery partners and start delivering chosen projects.

Anyone who would like a copy of the final strategy should register their details with The Food and Drink Forum by email to enquiries@foodanddrinkforum.co.uk

Nottingham PR consultant Perfect 10 PR www.perfect10pr.co.uk