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Launch Statement from Susanne Austin, Executive Director
at the launch of
The Cotswold Food Group
5th August 1999
(
NB: Since Disbanded)

Food and drink - itís in vogue and everyone is talking about it - what exciting times we are all experiencing throughout the food industry as a whole. Add the Cotswolds to this and we really canít go wrong!

The Cotswold Food Groupís particular aim is to assist, sustain and improve the rural economy through its producers, thus strengthening our rural economy as a whole, for, as most of you will know, much of our income is generated through agriculture and food.

We are only just scratching at the surface of the potential for our food industry in the future. As I spend my time working at ground level with the producers, I see them adhere to strict rules and regulations set upon them for the production of food, as well as the food processors who adhere to strict hygiene and labelling regulations, with more labelling regulations soon to be introduced. Consider the problems experienced in relation to E-coli, salmonella and BSE, which at the time seemed disastrous. Letís look on the bright side! In facing these issues, the way has now been paved for the deserved recognition, throughout Europe and progressing to the world, that produce from the UK is some of the best to be found. All of these events I am sure will in turn mean that within the next five years we will see problems arise in other countries within their food industry, thereby creating an increased demand for our producers and their produce. We will need to be ready to meet these demands as they are made. I am sure that we will then be providing quality foods, not only to the UK market, but around the world. Many of the Cotswold food producers at this time are able to produce large quantities while many more as yet are not. This is where I hope The Cotswold Food Group can help.

I have been working avidly as an agricultural advisor with producers to encourage them to prepare for the day when subsidies would no longer be available to support their businesses and feel strongly that they should never have relied on these. This has been coupled with a vast involvement with cottage industry. As a Group, we are looking forward on behalf of our members so as to see how their businesses may be improved in the future, how they may market directly and how those who are currently small concerns may grow. Having advised on diversification, my new role of advising on business and marketing issues for me has been a natural cross fertilisation to my position within the Group. To quote from a previous article I have written: ďThese people need secure foundation and realistic objectives and time frames to work towards in order that they may develop and master their businesses so as to fulfil the orders required of them, thus creating the prosperity that we are all so busily promoting. It is my hope that we will fulfil our objectives by supporting our producers at ground level, preparing them for the business that is created for them on a world wide basis. My only reservation at this time is that with a world wide market place being created, without realistic thought to the producersí development, these demands will not be able to be fulfilled.Ē

I believe that The Cotswold Food Group should lead by example and offer full support in its endeavours to assist all those concerned within the food industry in our area so as to help them achieve their aspired levels.

I would like to draw your attention to the profile on Janeís Pantry as I wish to use this as a fine example of the possibilities that can be achieved.

NB: The Cotswold Food Group came to a natural end in 2003 as a direct result of the loss of many of its members during The Foot and Mouth Crisis, and the lack of outside physical and financial support.
Susanne Austin 20th February 2005

 
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