Minister is talk of town

Claire Hall of Kirton Holme, creator of Percy's Vodka Iced Teas, with Farming Minister George Eustace MP during a tour of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Claire Hall of Kirton Holme, creator of Percy's Vodka Iced Teas, with Farming Minister George Eustace MP during a tour of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Food on the table at industry event in Holbeach

South Holland’s place at the centre of UK food production has been strengthened after a visit to Holbeach by Farming Minister George Eustice MP.

Ursula Lidbetter MBE, chairman of Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and board member Mark Tinsley with Farming Minister George Eustace MP.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Ursula Lidbetter MBE, chairman of Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and board member Mark Tinsley with Farming Minister George Eustace MP. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Leading food producers from across Lincolnshire met with Mr Eustice at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) in Park Road for the launch of a new body to support food manufacturing and production in the county.

The Food Board, made up of senior figures from food and farming in Lincolnshire, was launched by Mr Eustace on Thursday in the presence of officials from Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Professor Val Braybrooks, principal of NCFM, said: “The Food Board was launched in Holbeach where we have this fabulous facility that supports the food industry both locally and nationally.

“As far as supporting the food sector generally is concerned, it was a significant event and it’s now really important for The Food Board to help with our strategy here which is reflected in the development of this campus.”

Student Agnieszka Dudkiewicz talks to George Eustace MP and Mark Swainson (centre), principal lecturer at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach, about measuring weight changes in frozen chickens.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Student Agnieszka Dudkiewicz talks to George Eustace MP and Mark Swainson (centre), principal lecturer at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach, about measuring weight changes in frozen chickens. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Mr Eustice was given a guided tour of the centre and heard about the LEP’s Agri-Food Plan with its aim of doubling the economic value of Lincolnshire’s food industry by 2030.

Mark Tinsley of Greater Lincolnshire LEP said: “Agri-food is a key part of the greater Lincolnshire economy, worth £2.5 billion every year and directly employing around 56,000 people.

“That is why we were very pleased that the Farming Minister joined us on Thursday to listen to the concerns and challenges faced by those in the food and farming sectors.

“Our discussions covered a wide range of topics but the key issues to emerge were the importance of promoting agri-technology, creating a highly skilled food workforce and building on the potential of food exports.

Professor Val Braybrooks, principal of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach, with guests during a visit by Farming Minister George Eustace MP.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Professor Val Braybrooks, principal of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach, with guests during a visit by Farming Minister George Eustace MP. Photo by Tim Wilson.

“Our Agri-Food Plan has an ambitious target of doubling the value of the sector in greater Lincolnshire by 2030 and Thursday’s event was an excellent first step along that road.”

After the visit, Mr Eustice said: “The food and farming sector is incredibly important to this country, worth more than £100 billion to the economy and employing one in eight people.

“We want to support this growth and see the UK food and farming industry become the best in the world, exciting, dynamic and at the forefront of technology and innovation.

“It is excellent to see areas like Lincolnshire taking a lead, recognising the huge contribution the sector makes to the local economy and developing ambitious plans for future growth.”