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21.07.05
Plough To Plate

As a small speciality food producer it is not always easy to build up markets and new business. As the owner of a café, pub, farm shop or delicatessen, accessing Cornish food and drink from dozens of individual businesses can be a logistical nightmare. Step forward Plough to Plate, the link between the two, providing a badly needed wholesaling and distribution service at a time when the interest in selling, eating and sourcing local food was starting to take off.

The company was set up in 2003, with assistance from Objective One, Business Link and Cornwall Taste of the West, by two couples both with food retailing experience. Nigel and Sherry Boocock and Bill and Carol Sixton, knew exactly the difficulties faced by both ends of the food supply chain. Plough to Plate was designed to fill the gap between the two, sourcing and supplying quality Cornish food and drink to Cornish food outlets.

Initially the business, based in Doublebois, was run by the two couples, with two vans on the road. Now, in its third year, it has five vans and six full and part-time employees. Business grew four-fold in year two and this year is double 2003's volume. Sherry Boocock said the business had grown much faster than the partners had all anticipated once initial scepticism had been overcome. "We didn't know what to expect but there has definitely been a positive response to what we are doing," she said. "A lot of chefs are in such a rush that they don't have time to change their habits, they want to do it and just need some help from us. By being proactive we can take the ideas to them."

Plough to Plate lists 600 Cornish food and drink products and has a base of more than 320 regular customers ranging from gastropubs to corner shops.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, said the company was clearly increasing wealth by making Cornish produce easy to source and therefore raising demand for it. "The local food and drink industry plays a vital role in the Cornish economy. Plough to Plate is making a significant impact on many small food and drink producers by investing in processes that add value to the end product," she said.

The partners are clear that support from Objective One, Business Link and Cornwall Taste of the West, helped in the initial stages, not least with the business planning, marketing and promotion. "They made us think about being more professional, which helped to get our first year off to a much better start," Mrs Boocock said. "Business Link and Cornwall Taste of the West, helped us to prove that we had a serious intent."

Graham Woolcock, manager of Business Links' Cornwall Food and Drink Programme, which grant-funded the business for capital items including vacuum packing equipment and scales, said the success of Plough to Plate had benefited many other Cornish food and drink businesses. "It is crucial that local businesses are aware of the service Plough to Plate provides as a one stop delivery shop for local, fresh, quality produce on a regular basis," he said. "Over 320 local businesses are utilising this service and are pleased with the service they receive."

For further information please contact Lisa McGowan of the Marketing-PR Company on 01566 771860 or email: lmcgowan@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Business Link Cornwall Food and Drink Programme and Taste of the West through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

A wide range of business support is available through Business Link, including pre and post-investment advice and guidance for food and agricultural business.

For more information call Business Link on 0845 600 9966 or see www.blinkdandc.com.

Plough to Plate can be contacted on 01579 326186, Unit 1, Doublebois Rural Workshops, Doublebois, Nr Liskeard.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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