North East food and drink producers are being encouraged to showcase their talents to key buyers at a coming event.
Top Quality Local Produce 2012 will bring together producers and buyers on Wednesday February 29 at the Mariott Hotel MetroCentre.
Organised by Compete North East and supported by EAT! NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the day will include a networking taster session, where head chefs and general managers will be able to sample food.
A series of one-on-one meetings aimed at securing new supplier contracts will follow.
Paul Taylor, head of business engagement at Compete North East, said: “These events are hugely popular because it’s a really time-efficient way to network.
“We’re inviting the region’s leading food and drink producers to showcase their talents to top hotels and attractions.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. Smaller producers meet high calibre businesses and potentially secure contracts, and the buyers might just find that hidden gem of a supplier they’ve been looking for.”
Mr Taylor said a number of buyers have already confirmed including Centre for Life, Jesmond Dene House, Tyneside Cinema, The Alnwick Garden, Marriott Hotels, Hotel Indigo and Ramada Encore.
Gelder’s Bakery of Sunderland secured a contract to supply 20 Asda stores with 1,360 packs of pies per week, following a previous event.
Owner Tony Gelder, said: “It’s really difficult for smaller companies to meet the decision-makers. So these events are a fantastic way to meet and do business.
“We couldn’t believe that we would ever have the chance to talk to Asda, never-mind be awarded a contract.”
Some of the confirmed producers include Beckleberry’s, Mark Toney & Co, Northumberland Gourmet Pie Company and The TeaShed.
Simon Preston, festival director of EAT! NewcastleGateshead, said: “Over the past five years EAT! NewcastleGateshead has helped raise the profile of the region’s food and drink industry thanks to the on-going support of food producers, chefs, restaurants and the wider sector.
“This event gives local food producers the chance to showcase their amazing products and develop new business opportunities across the region. EAT! NewcastleGateshead is proud to champion the wonderful North East food offer.”