Plans to drive delicious food to the forefront of Durham’s tourism offering have been revealed - giving local independent food producers more opportunity to market their products to visitors from afar.
Products in development include a hamper-style ‘Taste Durham Welcome Pack’ with 12 specially selected food products which is currently being distributed to self-catering facilities to introduce guests to a selection of unique local produce, including:
• Sausages and bacon from pigs reared at Houghall Agricultural Farm
• Dairy products such as milk, butter and yoghurt made at Embleton Hall
• Jams and marmalade made in Consett
• Bread made by an artisan bakery in Bishop Auckland with spelt flour grown and milled near Sedgefield
• Coffee roasted, ground and blended in Lonton, Barnard Castle
• Honey from South Durham Honey
• Durham Cinder Toffee from Langley Park
The pack, developed by Durham Food Hub in partnership with Visit County Durham, is one of a number of new initiatives which have been created with the aim of giving small regional producers the chance to reach both national and international visitors to Durham more directly.
Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said: “Food and drink are strong drivers for visitors when selecting where they wish to spend their time and these novel welcome packs will help forge a much stronger link with food from Durham by introducing guests to a selection of unique local produce.
“Our collaborative approach also presents local suppliers with a direct route to market and will drive awareness of the diversity and variety of the county’s food and drink, celebrate excellence and provide our visitors with a unique taste of Durham.”
Durham Food Hub, which is being spearheaded by the man behind the Phileas Fogg snack company, Keith Gill, and Dr Liz Charles, has been created as part of plans to champion small, independent retailers in County Durham.
Keith said: “Consumers have been aware of where the food we eat comes from and have been interested in sourcing products that are made closer to home for some years now. However, main issue for local producers has been limited distribution as well as, in some cases, making their products fit for different sales channels.
“In County Durham we are fortunate that there are so many wonderful food producers who, with a bit of help, could see their goods selling on the open market not just here in the county but nationally too.
“What we’ll do is work with them to assess where they are in the business journey, from conception to consumption, to develop their individual plans including which sales channels and distribution are the best for them and then determine what support they need to get their products out into the public arena.
“Sales channels and distribution are key elements for success so we have completed a contractual arrangement for distribution with J.R.Holland which has enabled us to tap into their customer base as well as other existing channels. We have even created our own sales channels to trial so we feel confident in future development.”
The hub’s aim is to support as many small regional producers as possible, at present supporting eight selected food producers already making sought after goods, who have previously struggled to get their products to a broader distribution. These include specialist ice cream company Archers, Durham Cheesemakers and an artisan bakery.
Archers, already supplies its ice creams and ice cream cakes in their three ice cream parlours, and is now developing a range of products which it hopes to sell in selected supermarkets in the luxury dessert category.
Sue Archer, owner, said: “As part of our range for the parlours we developed a large cake made not from sponge but layers of ice cream. These are beautifully decorated with fruit, colis, nuts, chocolate twirls and other items to complete the ‘look’.
“They taste just as good as our other ranges but, working with Food Durham and Keith, we have prepared individual portions in new packaging suitable for a broader number of retail and food service businesses."
Statistics show that the food market in Durham is growing, with around 100 small producers of food and 1,000 outlets where food products are sold, including retailers, independent shops, restaurants and accommodation outlets.
Food sales also make a significant contribution to County Durham’s economy, with approximately 38 per cent of the £800m economic value introduced via this route. Statistics also show that for every £10 spent on locally made products £25 is put back into the local economy.
Published: 27, October, 2017
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