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The upcoming Highland Food and Drink Club (HFDC) has launched a survey to conduct market research which will assist it in actioning the needs of the industry and its workers.

During the current climate which has left the Food & Drink sector fragile, the consumer journey has taken a sudden change. The HFDC is looking at ways to start its journey to help businesses get back on their feet and thrive once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

The Highland Food and Drink Club will be an online larder, a directory offering its audience a signpost to exactly what quality food and drink produce exists within the Highlands and Moray. The club is a platform which will be a community for all. It offers different levels of membership available to support the growth of the sector and will be visible to a worldwide audience by the click of a button.

The current lockdown has caused a huge shift from eating out to eating in. With restaurants, cafés and bars closed, many businesses have had to adapt to keep themselves alive. Research by the RetailX Coronavirus Consumer Confidence Tracker showed that 14.2% of persons surveyed during March had increased their use of online grocery shopping, and 6.9% had been ordering more takeout online. Respondents were aged 18 and above.

The initiative has been recognised and received support from the Scottish Government. Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, said: “Innovative projects like the Highland Food and Drink club help grow our local economies and promote the availability and importance of locally produced and locally sourced food and drink. In these challenging times, the local approach is even more important and I very much welcome the launch of their market research to help stand them in best shape for recovering from this crisis. I would encourage all food and drink producers in the Highlands to take part in the survey.

“The club is just one of 78 innovative projects we have supported through the Regional Food Fund and I have been hugely impressed by the standard and range of all of them. The fund is creating new opportunities for small businesses and producers and is helping to promote Scotland’s world-leading food and drink sector.”

John Murray, co-owner of HFDC, added: “I am delighted to see this project start on its long and very exciting journey. I am passionate about the Food & Drink sector and the Highlands & Islands – I am looking forward to being part of the team to create and leave a lasting legacy using my skills and connections.”

The team behind the club urged all food and drink businesses – whether a producer or in retail – to take two to three minutes of their time to complete the survey. Together, the club believes businesses can come back stronger, and by completing the survey this will assist the club’s founders address where support is needed.