Fresh produce processors unaware of grants, says expert

There is "an amazing lack of awareness" about European and national grants designed to increase the demand for and value of fresh produce, according to a specialist in putting together funding bids.

BDA Plus director Lindsay Knight said: "There is a perception that government doesn't want to give the money out, but that's not the case. Particularly in England, budgets are often not fully spent. But food processors have to invest constantly, and grants let them progress investment faster than they could otherwise - particularly when banks are not being forthcoming."

He said that the abolition of regional development agencies has stalled such schemes in England, though replacement mechanisms should be in place by May, but there has been no such hold-up in Scotland.

He added: "A lot of the value-added processing moved east when the EU expanded eastward, but with their cost base rising, some of that is shifting back to the UK."

Grants have also recently led to areas of Lincolnshire moving from cereal to vegetable production, despite high grain prices, he said.

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