Food and drink producers looking to develop their operations should consider the opportunity presented by the Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation Grant Scheme.
The grant scheme is designed to give farming businesses the opportunity to bid for funds to boost food processing, marketing and cooperation, according to land and property specialists Strutt & Parker – which has a proven track record in helping farmers put together a successful application.
“This is an important grant scheme which supports businesses in Scotland who want to develop their food processing and marketing capabilities to add value,” said Mary Munro, Strutt & Parker’s head of farming in Scotland.
“The level of grant support depends on the scale of the business, but is typically around 40% of the overall project costs, which can amount to a very significant sum of money.
“The grants offered by the government under this scheme frequently run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds – although smaller awards are also offered.
“Previous applicants have received funding for a huge range of projects, including the installation of vegetable grading equipment, cold stores, packing and filling lines.”
Ms Munro said the application process requires the submission of a business plan, including a detailed marketing strategy and financial projections. It is critical to sufficiently demonstrate market demand in order to be successful and it is often beneficial to have a cooperative element to the business proposal.
“Pulling together a quality application does require thought and effort, but we have an excellent track record of helping businesses meet the required criteria. Over the past year alone, the Perth office has been involved with five successful applications which have collectively been worth more than £920,000.”
The application window for the current round of the FPMC grant scheme opened on 1 May and closes on 31 August.
Steve Mitchell runs the Buffalo Farm, an established butchery and meat wholesale business near Kirkcaldy.
The herd, established in 2004, numbers 130 breeding cows – the largest buffalo herd in Scotland. He employs 24 staff and his produce is sold across the UK.
Mr Mitchell applied to the FPMC grant scheme to help him implement his plan to move into the market for buffalo mozzarella.
The market is largely untapped from a UK point of view because most mozzarella is imported from Italy.
Mr Mitchell estimated that he would need a seven-figure sum to establish a new herd of milking buffalo, along with the infrastructure required to milk the cows and make the cheese.
He worked with Stephen Whiteford, farming consultant and associate director in Strutt & Parker’s Perth office, to draw up an application for the scheme which was submitted in November 2017.
He has recently heard that he has been awarded £569,631 towards the project, which is 40% of the overall project costs.
Mr Mitchell has now taken delivery of his milking herd of buffalo and they are settling in well. He is hoping to begin production of buffalo mozzarella by the beginning of 2019.