Shetland Food and Drink Ltd (SFAD) will use the money to support the membership organisation’s efforts to increase the sector’s production, profile and profitability for the local market and beyond.
A new project assistant post has been created and recruitment is currently underway.
The £192,798 project is also being supported by Shetland Islands Council, Scotland Food and Drink as well as the organisation’s own resources to complete the funding package.
More than 70 local businesses are already signed up as members and plans are in place to grow this in the coming months. SFAD has been providing support to producers and the hospitality sector amid the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
HIE’s head of business growth for Shetland, Andrew Gear, said: “We are really pleased that the funding package has been secured.
“The group undertakes important work in providing a collective voice for the sector and supporting its members to grow and showcase the best of Shetland’s world-class produce at home and further afield.”
“We believe having a strong food and drink group is more important than ever as the sector responds to the challenges of Covid-19.”
Board chairwoman Marian Armitage, who worked with Jill Franklin to create the organisation in 2017, paid tribute to staff’s hard work over the summer in ensuring the various funding bids were successful.
She said: “We are delighted to have this funding confirmed. It puts SFAD on a firm footing for the next three years and allows us to continue providing growth opportunities for member businesses.
“It’s exciting to be working with Scotland Food and Drink for the first time as a recognised regional food group. We are grateful to HIE and the SIC for their financial backing. I would particularly like to thank Claire and Mary for their dedicated work to achieve this success.”
A renewed membership drive will partly seek to broaden the scope of SFAD’s activities. It will work with Promote Shetland and the Shetland Tourist Association to bolster food and drink offerings available to tourists in collaboration with accommodation providers and tour guides.
Among new members to have signed up recently are Garths Croft and the Maryfield House Hotel in Bressay, producers Simpson Fish, accommodation providers Brekka Lodge and The Taing, tour guides Shetland With Laurie, Shetland Wool Adventures and Island Vista, and local music and events promoter Ragged Wood.
Mariann continued: “While Covid-19 had obviously disrupted SFAD’s plans in 2020, we felt the organisation had made a good start in helping to bolster the food and drink sector’s presence locally and further afield.
On Saturday 17 October its annual festival will take place online, with cooking demonstrations, talks and culinary discussion to be broadcast to the social media masses.
It is hoped the festival will return to its traditional format, but in the meantime it offers the opportunity to tap into the considerable online interest in all things Shetland driven by ITV’s crime drama, Shetland Wool Week and other high-profile media coverage.
Leah Irvine of the SIC’s economic development unit added: “It has been very encouraging to see what SFAD has achieved for the food and drink sector over the last three years.
“SIC is pleased to support the group for this next stage, alongside HIE and Scotland Food & Drink, which will ensure more development in the sector moving forward.”
SFAD was previously funded partly through the European Union’s LEADER programme in association with Shetland Islands Council.