New products going to market in the food and drink industry today have to be about more than just taste. The demand for innovative, functional and nutritious products is bigger than ever before. Often, the most exciting new product innovations come from small start-ups.
To help support young entrepreneurs take their first steps into the food industry, Cotswold Fayre is launching its annual start-up support scheme, Young Food and Drink Entrepreneur of the Year, for 2017.
Celebrating its fifth year, the initiative aims to help food entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 25 years old with financial and mentoring support to make their new product innovation a success.
As Paul Hargreaves, chief executive of fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre, explains: ‘Young people are increasingly interested in the provenance, quality and nutritional content of the products they consume. It is great to see some of this active interest being translated into new product innovation. But innovation is tough! The process from turning inspiration and ideas into reality is an ever-evolving one, especially in a market as crowded as the food industry.’
Paul adds: ‘Starting a business myself 17 years ago, I completely appreciate that the hurdles to starting a business can be daunting. Our start-up support scheme is unique in that we are not only offering a monetary support but I am also mentoring the winner throughout the first year to help them to accelerate their business plan.’
The winning applicant will be awarded £1,500 to help grow their company. On top of this, they will have monthly mentoring sessions with Paul Hargreaves to discuss and develop their business plan, and take things to the next level.
Cotswold Fayre’s in-house designer will work with the winner to develop a strong brand identity through design.
The 2016 winner
Last year’s winner, Olly Hiscocks, founder of Olly’s Olives, says: ‘Winning Young Food and Drink Entrepreneur of the Year has been a massive milestone for the business. The prize money has been invaluable in pushing our new products forward and the award has helped to attract new stockists.
‘Paul has been brilliant – he has such in-depth and extensive knowledge of the food industry, which I feel very lucky to have had a slice of! His mentoring has been extremely helpful and guided me in making the right decisions for the business. The next six months are going to be huge for Olly’s Olives with new products, new packaging, new flavours and even new offices – here comes the Olivelution!’
Applications for this year’s award open on April 3 2017 and close on June 30 2017. The application form can be found at the Cotswold Fayre website.