17 May 2021

Council commits to further financial support for food and drink activity across Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire Council is to provide additional funding for continuing food and drink activity being undertaken by Opportunity North East (ONE).

The council’s Infrastructure Services Committee heard on Thursday (May 13) that the activity undertaken by ONE in 2020-21 was badly affected by Covid restrictions and resulted in the cancellation of the North East Scotland Food and Drink Awards and the North East Scotland Food and Drink Network events being curtailed.

However, thanks to a number of very successful events being delivered virtually, even more businesses have actually been able to access key information and support.

While the extent of possible activity and support to the sector in 2021-22 remains unclear and will be dictated by Government guidance around Covid, the online support and networking will continue via webinars and it’s hoped that face-to-face support and networking will resume in the not-too-distant future.

Councillors approved a £37,900 contribution towards total project costs of £213,850 to progress work around a number of activities including the NES Food and Drink Network
and Food and Drink Awards, Business Growth Alumni, Business Growth 2021, a Leadership Programme, New Starts Accelerator and a New Product Development/Innovation Programme.

ONE was established in 2015 as a private sector-led body, focused on ensuring a sustainable economic future for the North-east of Scotland.

It aims to broaden and strengthen the region’s economy by investing in and accelerating the delivery of projects of scale and impact through five sector boards: ONE Oil, Gas & Energy, ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture (including fisheries), ONE Life Sciences, Tourism – ONE support is via Visit Aberdeenshire and ONE Digital & Entrepreneurship.

Food, drink, agriculture and fisheries is one of the key themes of ONE and is also one of Aberdeenshire Council’s key sectors. The ambition is to grow north east Scotland's food, drink, agriculture and seafood sector turnover by 5% per annum, double output and exports by 2030, and increase productivity by 25% by 2025.

The Aberdeenshire Council post of Industry Support Executive for Food and Drink has been seconded to ONE since 2016 and this secondment has been extended until July next year.

Welcoming the additional funding, Councillor Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “Food and drink is the UK's largest manufacturing sector, and the industry remains a crucial and constantly developing area of our region’s diverging local economy.

“There are 22,000 people employed in the industry in the North-east of Scotland and the region accounts for more than 20% of Scotland's food and drink output. It leads on the production of Scotland's quality primary produce from land and sea and is home to some of
the country's most iconic brands.

“Aberdeenshire Council continues to be a very strong supporter of our dynamic food and drink industry and I am confident that the ongoing work of Opportunity North East will ensure that Scotland’s largest manufacturing sector continues to go from strength to strength.”

Vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “Regionally, in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, the food and drink industry directly employs more than 22,000 people and is worth more than £2.2billion each year. Among the key developments underway to support the sector include the SeedPod project being launched next year which will become the focal point to create and deliver the region's leading position in technology innovation and adoption.

“We can also expect to see the Seafood Transformation Project come online which will target changes in the region's largest processing sector to increase its productivity through advanced manufacturing and processing facilities, leadership and skills investment and access to new national and international markets.”