Food and drink manufacturers looking to expand, take on extra staff, develop new products or access financing will be aided by a £3.5million programme, part-funded by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team (FEAST) will run for three years and deliver in the D2N2 LEP’s area by the Nottingham-based Food and Drink Forum: an industry-led body set-up in 1998 to support and develop the food and drink sector, and represent it at a regional and national level.

FEAST’s services will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and drink manufacturing sector by providing:

•             an annual review of the sector’s performance, available to all businesses;

•             technical and business advice;

•             business mentoring;

•             tailored events for sector businesses, designed to share and promote good practice, and         develop business partnerships;

•             an apprenticeship programme for the sector, to support job creation and skills development;

•             capital grants for SMEs looking to expand.

Peter Richardson, chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Food and drink manufacturing is one of the UK’s most innovative sectors, but smaller companies often don’t have the resources of big global brands to gather market intelligence, innovate and address technical issues.

“The FEAST programme is designed to help SMEs keep their competitive edge and develop their businesses. D2N2 is proud to be making a major investment in this three-year initiative in one of its eight key sectors.”