Taste Lancashire, the county’s first food and drink conference brought together food entrepreneurs, retail bosses, agricultural leaders, international trade experts and influencers from the hospitality industry and was a resounding success with a capacity audience at Clitheroe’s Holmes Mill.
Developed in partnership with the Department for International Trade, Taste Lancashire 2017 aimed to challenge, inspire and celebrate the county’s food and drink economy; the sector is one of Lancashire’s key strengths and a leading theme in the county’s Visitor Economy Strategy to grow annual visitor numbers to 70 million by 2020.
Ruth Connor, chief executive of organisers Marketing Lancashire, said: “Conversations, collaborations and new deals were struck at the conference with Marketing Lancashire reaffirming our commitment to establishing Lancashire as a must-visit food destination. We’ve certainly succeeded in amplifying messages of quality and excellence across the sector, taking Lancashire to London for Lancashire Day in 2016 and now, creating the first Taste Lancashire food and drink conference.
“There is a step change occurring in the Lancashire food scene and we are proud to champion food and drink businesses across this great county and look forward to working with many more.”
Marketing Lancashire’s sold-out event opened with a keynote speech from renowned food writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner, who offered insight on attracting national journalists to Lancashire, and issued a rousing warning against the ubiquitous use of the word “local” without due quality control, citing a south coast pub who advise customers that they serve “local when best”.
A busy day of expert panels and case studies followed, covering topics as broad as Brexit, branding, food marketing and exporting, with advice and insight from industry leaders Nigel Haworth, Michelin-starred chef at Northcote, Alastair Sawday, of Sawday’s Travel, food consultant and Farmhouse Fare founder Helen Colley, travel-writer and blogger Zoe Dawes and many more including James Warburton, owner of James’ Places, the leisure group behind Holmes Mill.
James was a panellist on one of the three expert panel sessions of the day entitled “A Sense of Place – creating a must-visit food destination”.
Reflecting on the event he said: “We were delighted to host this important event. The vision for the Bowland Food Hall is for it to be a fabulous place to shop, taste and enjoy the best produce the county has to offer. The Taste Lancashire event brought together producers, suppliers and influencers in media and policy giving us the opportunity to showcase what we’ve achieved so far. And importantly for us, to make new contacts so that we can continue to develop and improve.”
Taste Lancashire 2017 was produced in association with BOOST, Lancashire’s business growth hub and Burnley-based Coolkit, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of fridge van conversions. The event was supported by Holmes Mill, part of the James’ Places Group.
Producers and hospitality businesses who would like to learn more about Taste Lancashire initiatives to raise the profile of Lancashire food and drink, as well as the benefits of becoming a member of Marketing Lancashire should call Maria Moriarty Eames, Head of Partnerships on 01772 426464.