Chichester College provides routes to market for local producers

Caroline (second from right) and ger Dairy team. Picture submitted
Caroline (second from right) and ger Dairy team. Picture submitted

Food and drink producers in the South of England now have the opportunity to get the skills needed to grow their business, with the launch of a new practical training and support package, that identifies the best route to market for their products.

Offering training and support to businesses in Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the Routes to Market (RTM) package, developed by The Centre of Excellence for Regional Food and Drink at Chichester College’s Brinsbury Campus, is being delivered in collaboration with The Southern Co-operative.

One day old calf photo. Picture courtesy Caroline's Dairy

One day old calf photo. Picture courtesy Caroline's Dairy

Intended to help both established and growing businesses, whether lifestyle, start up or home based, the support is available for both the retail and hospitality industries.

Alison Read, Head of the Brinsbury Campus, explained: “The training and support package is a brilliant addition to our course portfolio.

“It embraces three modules in a practical and focused way. These include Business planning, including advice on how a large retailer works with local suppliers, top tips on product selling, labelling, nutritional information, barcodes and shelf life; Food Hygiene and Legislation; Due Diligence auditing for small or home-based producers and SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) certification scheme for small and medium sized producers who operate out of business premises.”

Once businesses have taken part in the planning and training exercises, they become eligible to attend quarterly events to meet and pitch to The Southern Co-operative and other interested buyers, as well as discuss the best route to customers and distributors.

Met with praise by local Ice cream producer Caroline Spiby of Caroline’s Dairy in West Sussex, she said: “For small businesses like mine, most of the time is spent producing, selling and distributing our products.

“I think the Routes to Market programme is a fantastic opportunity to use a short time away from day to day operations to understand the performance of my business today, make wider plans for the future and importantly, to meet like-minded producers who face the same challenges as I do.”

The Southern Co-operative’s Chief Operating Officer, Phil Ponsonby, said: “As a retail business with around 170 community food stores across the south, The Southern Co-operative actively sources products from numerous small businesses, particularly for our ‘Local Flavours’ range, giving producers a valuable route to market.

“It is crucial for small businesses to be aware of all the legal requirements as well as understanding what retailers, whether a small independent delicatessen, farm shop or large supermarket, require in order to stock their produce.

“This training aims to help start up businesses understand key requirements in business planning and product development, and more established businesses to refocus their business plan and profile their financial model with a 5-10 year view.”

Training and support packages have been designed by the college to be both accessible and affordable to small businesses.

A ‘Routes to Market’ information pack guides producers through a comprehensive Q&A to focus their business planning and support the planned training days to be held at the college’s Brinsbury campus throughout the year.

For more information and advice on the Route To Market package, including dates of all future workshops future workshops, contact Hannah Vaughan on 01243 786321, or register your interest at