Around 85 guests attended the flagship event of business support organisation The Food and Drink Forum.
Staged at Southwell Racecourse, the annual supper is one of the largest networking events for the East Midlands food and drink sector and attracted delegates from across the region.
The Food and Drink Forum, which is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, has members across the district, including manufacturers, food service operators and businesses providing services for the food and drink sector.
The supper heard from several key speakers including Beckie Rowland of bakery giant Greggs who spoke about the recruitment of ex-offenders and the importance of this within the community.
Oliver Brown from Derbyshire family firm Bluebells Real Dairy Ice Cream also spoke about the difficulties milk farmers face and farm diversification as a solution to this.
He also added that the Food and Drink Forum had played a vital role in helping his company to achieve SALSA approval allowing them to expand to sell to the National Trust.
Other speakers included Dips Patel from Loughborough-based Mistry and Co. who spoke of their mission to use food to educate and inspire others.
Key industry figures from across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland attended the event which also featured displays by Nottingham Trent University, The Federation of Small Businesses, Chemex and From The Notebook Ltd.
Food and Drink Forum chairman Peter Knight said that the food and drink sector had faced an interesting and exciting year, speaking in particular of the success of the Leicester Food Park, with the Forum having recently secured the management of the park in a joint bid with the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce.
He said: “I am very pleased with how the first members’ supper at Southwell Racecourse has gone. The evening has been a great success with members’ produce enjoyed by around 85 guests and thought-provoking speeches.”
Peter Knight also thanked the Local Enterprise Partnership D2N2 for helping the Forum move forward once again.
Chairman of D2N2 Peter Richardson said the Food and Drink sector was key in creating new jobs.
He said: “The Food and Drink Forum are vital in providing businesses in the private sector with everything they need to drive themselves forward.
“In the East Midlands we are at the heart of the UK’s economy and we need to strive to be at the heart of Europe’s too. However, to do this the private sector needs a voice, and the Food and Drink Forum offers companies that voice.”
The Food and Drink Forum was founded in 1988 as a not-for-profit, membership-led organisation to stimulate and support the sustainable growth and development of the food and drink industry in the East Midlands.
Its aims include championing the food and drink sector in the East Midlands, developing strategic influencing partnerships within and outside the East Midlands, and acting as a centre for information and knowledge on all subjects relating to the food and drink sector in the region.
It also aims to stimulate and facilitate sustainable change within companies of all sizes across the food chain, generate income and secure resources to meet the needs of a high-quality service, and promote the food and drink sector to future employees through education and the raising of skills.
For more information please visit www.foodanddrinkforum.co.uk