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Food and Drink? The Park Authority wants to hear from you!

24th February 2010

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is stepping up its drive to promote the use of local food and drink across the area with a survey going out this week to gauge exactly who is out there, what they are producing, and who is buying and selling it.

It’s the first major survey of the Park’s food and drink sector since 2004 when a survey of primary food and drink producers was carried out.

“We want to hear from everyone involved in food and drink this time – not just the primary producers and we are looking for information on what the barriers are to providing, producing or selling local food and drink,” said Ruathy Donald, economic development officer with the CNPA.

She added: “We want to know if someone is a primary producer, what their product is and how much they are producing whether it’s lamb, venison, fish, vegetables, eggs, preserves and so on. We also want to hear from the processers buying these goods and what they are doing with them and where it goes from there. We also want more information on the retail sector and from the far end of the chain – the providers – such as hotels and cafes.”

Everyone involved in food and drink from primary producers to processors and from retailers to providers is being asked to complete the survey. Letters are going out this week across the Park with instructions on how to complete the online survey but even if people don’t receive a letter, the Park Authority still wants everyone with an interest to get online and complete the survey.

Eleanor Mackintosh, a farmer and CNPA board member from Glenlivet said: “The Park Authority does not have the definitive database on the food and drink industry in the Park so it’s important that people don’t wait for the letter – they just get online and do the survey anyway. On the other hand, if they do receive a letter promoting the survey, please let others know and help to spread the word. We want to get as comprehensive a picture as possible on this sector and this is everyone’s chance to get involved at this crucial, early stage.”

Gathering all this information is the first stage in the development and implementation of the Cairngorms Food and Drink Action Plan and will feed into the CNPA’s work on the Food for Life project, in partnership with the Soil Association, which aims to get more schools, hospitals and communities using produce from their local area.

Nethy Bridge farmer and CNPA board member Alistair MacLennan said: “The information gathered as a result of this survey will be vital in assisting those involved in the food supply chain in the Cairngorms to work together to increase the provision of local produce.

“Using local produce, whether in a restaurant or at school, will help improve health and wellbeing; provide educational opportunities; develop skills; create employment; and help our work towards creating a low carbon National Park.”

You can complete the survey online here.

The deadline for completion of the survey is Friday 12 March. For those without access to a computer please call Laura Grant on tel: 01479 870500 for a copy to be sent out in the post. For more information on food and drink in the Cairngorms National Park, please call Ruathy Donald on tel: 01479 870545 or email [email protected].

Also going out this week to farmers is a short survey which aims to establish which quality assurance schemes or other initiatives that their businesses are involved in and which programmes have proved to be the most beneficial to them. Go to the same web link above to complete the farm survey.