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Buy Local South East


The Food and Drink sector has become increasingly important on the regional government agenda in recent years, with food tourism growing in the South East. British food (Buy British) has become hugely popular in and outside the UK, with customers growing more environmentally aware. There is a shift toward local and sustainable food.​

The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought the role of the food and drink sector in our regional rural economy into sharp focus. The forced shutdown of pubs, restaurants and cafes has had a disastrous effect on the hospitality sector and its supply chain of growers, producers and distributors. This Project aims to capitalise on a renewed focus on local buying to support all businesses in the food and drink sector to weather the storm and rebuild a sustainable business in the recovery period.

The proposal will produce:

  • A regional website and portal to signpost customers to local food and drink businesses showing the SELEP region (, which is a centralised food and drink platform for the area aimed at consumers(B2C page) and businesses (B2B page) looking to buy local in the Southeast;
  • A SELEP area wide Buy Local Food and Drink marketing campaign focussed on local producers, retailers and followed by hospitality and tourism experiences;
  • Central database for food and drink businesses in the SELEP area;
  • A series of business recovery support activities for food and drink businesses based on a sector COVID-19 impact and recovery survey. This could include surveys, training, 1-2-1 support, connecting suppliers with buyers, and knowledge exchange conference. The activities do not relate to financial support, which might overlap with Government/County Council initiatives, but rather focused activities dependant on the outcome of the sector survey.

The work is supported by the need from local producers to develop business relations with wholesale, retail and hospitality sectors to build their businesses. It also supports the SELEP Economic Strategy by:

  • Increasing the adoption of new technologies and processes by small rural businesses, who will be able to access expertise to support development of new products/services and build products/services started in response to COVID-19. Advice and training on new technologies and innovations in the areas of food production and delivery techniques, food processing, sales and marketing, routes to market and access to new markets will enhance economic development and support job creation;
  • The project, through its B2C and B2B platform, will provide an opportunity to businesses across the three federated areas to connect with each other, with larger regional, national (large retail) and international ‘Buyers’ as well as with customers residing within and outside of the SELEP area;
  • COVID-19 has shown the pivotal role the food and drink industry are playing in the local economy and communities. The Project will use its SELEP-wide marketing campaign, and by supporting growers, producers, retailers and businesses in the hospitality sector boost B2C and B2B sales and build regional supply chains, the project supports the regional economy, promotes a connected, healthy and happy community, and contributes to a well-maintained countryside and a better environment;
  • The regional map and supporting marketing campaign will provide customers looking for local produce an insight into the great variety of food and drink businesses in the SELEP area, with the regional map providing a direct Call to Action, boosting sales and subsequent business growth. The map and business support activities offer the opportunity for local producers to engage with the broader market and build on the ‘local produce’ offer, offering a more sustainable approach to food production which directly supports local job creation and community cohesion;
  • The Buy Local campaign will also look to involve the hospitality sector which has suffered disproportionately from the social distancing guidelines, promoting its offering and helping with B2B business development and targeted recovery support;
  • The project, through its baseline survey, provides an opportunity to assess current skills gaps post COVID-19 and offer targeted upskilling activities.

Sector Support Fund

The Sector Support Fund (SSF) is a £500,000 per year pot to support one-off, discrete pieces of work of a pan-LEP nature with a sector focus that brings demonstrable benefit and has support across the LEP.

It uses Growing Places Fund (GPF) Revenue grant to fund a programme of works to support the sector focussed activities that are being undertaken on a pan-LEP basis and predominantly led by the SELEP working groups. When the Growing Places Fund (GPF) grant was originally awarded, a proportion of the fund was earmarked as revenue which is being used for the Sector Support Fund.

Funding value: £69,510
Total Project cost: £99,300
Return to Sector Support Fund