Local Food Network conference in Bridlington is food for thought

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Local food and drink businesses came to showcase their produce at a conference held in The Spa Bridlington.

The East Yorkshire Local Food Network’s Spring conference attracted around 40 exhibitors from Yorkshire-based businesses and a total of 200 guests, on Monday 12 May.

Among the produce on display was locally sourced shellfish from Bridlington and the East Yorkshire coast presented by Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG).

Guest speakers at the event included Robert Ramsden, head of specialist food development at Delifresh Ltd and Sean Welsh, the director of the East Yorkshire Local Food Network, who talked about the benefits of investing in apprenticeships and skills.

Mark Farnsworth, vice chairman of East Yorkshire Local Food Network, said: “It was an excellent day, this is the second full conference since we became a private limited organisation without government support and it is growing and growing.

“One of the best things is that last year we were in a relatively small room at Bishop Burton College and this year we were in the Spa. It just shows how the network has grown and how it is going from strength to strength.

“We had some great speakers and it was really inspiring to hear that level of passion for Yorkshire food and commitment to sourcing locally.

“We heard lots about how the Government through various ways are increasing their support for good and tourism in particular and obviously that will benefit a number of our members. in the next two to three years. There was a real sense of optimism in the room that things are starting to go our way a bit and the future looks positive.

“We work closely with FLAG. It is a well known fact that a lot of what is caught doesn’t hit the local market it goes into Europe. We are working with them to get more of their catch into local businesses. We have some of the best sea food just off our coast and I don’t think we really realise that yet

“We are very grateful to all the support that the council land Local Enterprise Partnership gave us, we couldn’t do it without them.”

Ray Williamson, of FLAG, said: “The local fishing industry and the fishing communities along the Holderness coast are very important to the economy of the East Riding. The Fisheries Local Action Group is therefore very pleased to support the event and show local businesses what’s on offer on our doorstep.”

Councillor Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for rural issues and cultural services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “It is an excellent event and I think very appropriate to have it at The Spa. It was well attended and I’m extremely impressed this year by the stands and the exhibits they are so diverse and it is always so impressive.

“The quality and diversity in the area of local food producers from fish smoking, to vegetables - it is very impressive.

“It is all about tourism as well so this event is extremely important. It is great for small businesses, it is tremendously important.

“It is important that people know the diversity and the quality is extremely high. We want to encourage more and more of the local chefs to use local produce. Some of them already do but we want more and more of the food outlets to support local businesses.”