THE county's flourishing food and drink sector has just received another boost following the announcement that a new project supporting manufacturers in the county has been given the go ahead.
It comes with the news that, having successfully led FEAST (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team) for the last two years - the project which offered eligible food and drink manufacturers in the county access to such free support as signposting to grants, technical expertise, sector events, apprenticeships and mentoring - The Mallows Company based at Bozeat near Wellingborough is set to deliver comparable help for businesses under the banner of FEAST 2 until the end of 2021.
Among those applauding this positive step is Chris Bryszkiewicz of Hoppy Family Brewery in Kettering who, despite currently working for a recruitment agency and dedicating every moment of his spare time to brewing, says his recent FEAST grant of over £1,000 is the first stepping stone towards his dream of going full time
"The money has enabled me to purchase three new and bigger brewing vessels which means I will be able to increase my production from 40 to 260 litres per brewing batch to meet the demand that's already there for my beers," said Chris.
"So I'm delighted that this new project is starting up and although I won't be asking for additional funds this time, I shall certainly be looking to take advantage of the mentoring and technical support that's available and would urge other food and drink businesses to make sure they've signed up again so they can access the free help they need.
"Indeed, thanks to some further investment, I'm hoping to increase my sales tenfold by the end of this year which will mean not only finally being able to give up my day job but also taking on someone to help me."
So with plans to also move from his current production site to a dedicated brewing facility in the next few months, how does Chris intend to achieve his goals: "With passion and a smile" replied Chris. "After all, we are the hoppiest brewery in Kettering!"
FEAST 2, which was awarded to the Food & Drink Forum, is worth £3,934,176 in total, and will receive a further £1,967,089 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
Its director, Rachel Mallows MBE, says this new scheme will only help to strengthen the sector further: "The last two years have been a great success, whether in helping businesses to access funds and thereby purchase much-needed equipment to enable growth or in sourcing technical advice so solve a production issue.
"So we're really pleased to have been given this opportunity to offer the support for the next three years as we know that there are many producers who want not just money but help in various ways and plenty of those who will now be able to benefit as this exciting new project gets under way."
For more details of FEAST 2, including registering your business for the free support on offer, contact Amanda Askew at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile for more information on Hoppy Family Brewery and its range of beers, including its X-Strong Ale, which was named runner-up in the New Local Drink of the Year category in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2018/19, visit www.hfbrewery.com or call Chris on 07986 019579.