Scotland Food & Drink, the industry leadership organisation, in partnership with HIE, hosted an exclusive 'Meet the Buyer' visit from Sainsbury's yesterday (14 July) at Cowan House in Inverness. The event, aimed at food and drink businesses across the Highlands and Islands, gave businesses the opportunity to showcase their products as part of Scotland Food & Drink's Access to Markets programme.
The event will provide 13 Highlands and Islands producers with an opportunity to secure a space on the shelves of the national supermarket chain, which is soon to open new stores in Nairn and Elgin.
HIE has recently awarded £271,000 to Scotland Food & Drink to support the Access to Markets programme across Scotland during 2011 and 2012. This includes holding Meet the Buyer events, workshops, exhibitions and producing supporting information. The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise also provide funding to the programme.
The Sainsbury's buyers have selected 13 high-quality producers to meet including breweries, bakeries, fish producers, dairies and vegetable processors.
Iain Sutherland, senior development manager at HIE, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for food and drink producers in the Highlands and Islands to have their products on sale at a national supermarket chain. We are delighted to be able to host the Sainsbury's buyers here in Inverness and look forward to them being suitably impressed by the quality of the produce on offer."
Stephanie Pritchard, Scotland Food & Drink project manager, added: "The Access to Markets programme is designed to help food and drink businesses access commercial opportunities with potential customers, as well as with building capabilities to enable them to develop sustainable trading relationships. The Sainsbury's Meet the Buyer initiative is typical of the support we offer companies and we are delighted to be able to help so many food and drinks businesses in the Highlands and Islands connect with one of their key customer targets."
Sainsbury's buyer Steve Wallace commented: "Finding new and innovative products to fit Sainsbury's strict criteria for taste and quality is always challenging for us, but we are incredibly encouraged by the range and standard of food and drinks producers we met in Inverness yesterday. We know our customers are looking for great tasting products produced with local ingredients, so our next challenge is to identify those products our customers would like to see in their store.
For more information on this and other Meet the Buyer events, please visit the Scotland Food & Drink website at www.scotlandfoodanddrink.org