Small-scale food and drink manufacturers in Northern Ireland can apply to a £1m capital grant scheme to help boost sales of locally grown produce.
Funding of £5,000 to £50,000 will be available to businesses that are processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce.
Grants can be used to fund up to 50% of eligible costs for new food processing equipment and machinery, including dedicated computer software.
A six-week application window for expressions of interest opens on 8 March with a deadline of 15 April, according to the Department for Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera).
The Micro Food Business Investment Scheme has three main aims:
- Help businesses scale-up production to commence supplying the retail or distribution industry
- Increase the quantity of products businesses sell to the retail or distribution industry
- Help businesses move into sales outside Northern Ireland.
To be eligible, businesses must have fewer than 10 full-time employees and a turnover lower than £1.8m.
Daera minister Gordon Lyons stressed that projects must provide direct benefits to the supply chain by improving commercial links between food processors, farmers and growers.
It is essential that the business is processing primary agricultural produce, particularly produce farmed or grown locally, Mr Lyons explained.
Produce can include red meat, pigmeat, poultrymeat, eggs, milk, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, cereals and seeds.
The Micro Food Business Investment Scheme’s closing date for expressions of interest is 15 April 2021.
Further details on the scheme and how to apply are available on the Daera website.
The department can be contacted via a dedicated email.