5 April 2002

The men from UNCL unite to push cereals

GROWERS, traders and processors who joined forces recently to promote cereals and cereal products from Northumberland have stepped up the pace to secure a range of new markets.

Unique Northumberland Cereals has planned four days of intensive marketing in early July at the Royal Show and in the county as part of its "initiative to reach along the food chain".

The group says the event is likely to feature the biggest gathering of cereal-buying power ever assembled in the UK. Currently, 10 overseas buyers from seven countries will attend and a further 70 British cereal processing companies, bakers and brewers have been invited.

"People tend to think of Northumberland as a livestock-producing county," says Eric Evans, project leader, Newcastle University. "But cereals account for 67% of the farmed area in the county.

"Our key aims are to establish Northumberland as a distinct force in cereals supply, develop its reputation for quality and customer service and to provide a platform for individual businesses to promote their products to specific buyers."

Other members of the team include Terence Pardoe, chief executive of Coastal Grains and farmers Barclay Forrest and Peter Jackson. All grabbed the opportunity to launch the initiative when Northumberland was named as feature county for the Royal Show.

Backing from a host of local businesses, including traders, seed companies and ports, as well as banks, the Home-Grown Cereals Authority and the Royal Agricultural Society of England, has secured £60,000 of sponsorship for the project.

The Curry report has recommended that sectors get together to identify customers and promote their products, says Dr Evans.

"We hope this initiative will enable producers and the market to establish and maintain links. If we can secure better markets and better prices, we will be able to secure a better future for farmers, too." &#42

UNCL AIMS

Establish Northumberland as a distinct supplier of cereal and cereal products.

Gain reputation for quality/customer service.

Provide platform for individual business promotion.

Encourage vertical integration, joint ventures and product innovation.

Improve job security in cereal sector.

Increase business confidence in sector.