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East Lothian Food and Drink BID: A world leader

East Lothian Food & Drink created a world first as it came into being in 2016.

Nowhere else on the planet was home to a Food and Drink Business Improvement District – an innovation which has helped enhance and promote a vital part of the region’s economy.

And the organisation has certainly proven its worth, demonstrating how sector-specific improvement districts can deliver great benefits for its members and the communities they are proud to be part of.

Emma Bouglet, East Lothian Food & Drink’s business manager, said: “Membership has been growing. We have a good bunch of members. I co-own a gin company and was a member myself for four years before becoming manager. The great thing is that we all work together.

“We have larger proudcers who mentor many of our smaller companies.”

For every £1 received in BID levy monies, an additional £3 is leveraged through support and project funding. This equates to £222,000 across the five years of the BID term.

East Lothian is home to an impressive array of food and drink businesses, ranging from craft beer, artisan gins and wild foraged liqueurs to producers to quality meat, fish, seafood and dairy products to the creators of ice creams and hand-crafted chocolates.

With the sector growing across the region, the BID was established to not only celebrate the very best of what the area offers, but provide a platform for collaboration between businesses, encouraging their growth and sustainability.

The organisation now has more than 40 members, ranging in size from small artisan producers to branches of international businesses.

It also boasts a growing number of supporters, including local restaurants, cafes, retailers, delicatessens and food delivery businesses.

Events – including a thriving network of farmers’ markets – and training initiatives are boosted by a vibrant website and social media channels which have grown into a hub for highlighting the people, businesses and products that make the sector locally so special.

Much of that work is about encouraging local people to realise, celebrate and enjoy all that is on their doorstep.

Emma said: “You’re stronger in numbers. We all do a good job individually showcasing produce, but when you go as a community – or, in our case, a BID – people get to see the whole picture.

“The BID has really helped create another avenue for businesses.” 

East Lothian Food & Drink chair, Chris Luca, added: “The BID provides an opportunity for collaboration, giving us a collective voice, which is able to influence future policy that affects our area and to improve our business opportunities.”

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