A three-month long pop-up programme to give food and drink producers from across County Durham the chance to showcase their products and explore potential routes to market launches this week.

The event is a collaboration between All Durham, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Grant Thompson and Chris Donovan, the Durham Food and Drink Network, Business Durham, Prince Bishops Shopping Centre and Durham County Council, whose Targeted Business Improvement (TBI) scheme part-funded the project.

The idea is that each week during the three-month initiative, select groups of producers of food and drink goods from County Durham will come together at a converted unit within Prince Bishops to showcase their products, push out their brand and meet visitors and tourists who descend on the city every day.

By teaming up with the Durham Food and Drink Network, which is a strand of the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), all participating producers will be given 12 hours of support which includes:

  • Pre-event assistance to prepare for the pop-up initiative
  • One week’s exhibiting space
  • Post-event support to engage with other producers in the area with a view to collaborating in the future
  • Access to support through the Durham Food and Drink Network’s partners

The first cohort of producers taking part include The Tea Enthusiasts, Cake Ninja, Wiga Wagaa, Sanction Gin and Honeypot Bakery.

Grant Thompson said: “What Chris and I wanted to do was create a space that champions local food and drink producers, providing them with a platform to showcase their fantastic products to a diverse and large audience of shoppers.

“There are some wonderful, tasty goods made right here in County Durham, however we’re not shouting loudly enough about them and that’s something we want to change.

“We want our area to be known as much for our food produce as it is for the wonderful cathedral and castle, university and vast history and heritage and this pop-up initiative is a great way to show people just what our participants have to offer.”

The pop-up programme will run until the end of September and visitors to Durham City are encouraged to drop in and sample some of the produce being showcased.

Steve Robson is project manager of the Durham Food and Drink Network. He said: “The pop-up concept is the brainchild of All Durham and will help local producers find tangible routes to market, test their products and find wholesale opportunities for the food and drink products they manufacture.

“This is exactly what the Durham Food and Drink Network is all about and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with All Durham to make this 12-weeks-long showcase of County Durham producers happen.

“The project will pilot in our fantastic city centre and bring dozens of local food and drink sellers and consumers to the streets of Durham.

“We want these businesses to access new routes to market and build confidence in their product, but also to get access to much needed business support. The scheme will offer the chance to be involved with a city centre pop up with access to dedicated, expert and industry specific business advice and support.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, said: “We are proud to be able to support All Durham in opening its pop-up initiative in Durham city. The future of our high streets across the county is dependent on supporting local suppliers and connecting them to retailers. This initiative is going to support local businesses by selling and promoting the excellent produce that is made and grown in County Durham.”

Richard Toynbee, Centre Manager at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, said: “We’re delighted to host the three-month pop-up initiative which will not only highlight the fantastic food and drink products made right here in County Durham but also attract additional visitors to the shopping centre and the wider city centre area.”

Grant Thompson added: “We are creating a space where people can try, buy and promote County Durham products in an environment where you can talk and meet the people that actually made the food and drink.

“You can take a taste journey titillating your senses with local bread, amazing cheeses, delicious beers and screaming hot sauce as just a few examples.

“It’s such a great chance to see what is produced in our amazing region so please do come along and meet the businesses taking part. We think you’ll be surprised to see the quality of the goods made on your doorstep.”

For more information on the pop-up initiative, or if you think your business could be eligible, email Steve Robson, steven@theenterpriseagency.co.uk.