The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is backing a new programme to support London’s small food businesses. The food sector is worth £17bn to the capital’s economy with small and medium food businesses providing the majority of the industry’s 300,000 jobs.
The new six-month pilot, developed by the Mayor’s food advisor, Rosie Boycott, is seeking to help small social enterprises expand into larger profitable businesses.
The aim is to develop ‘best practice’ and explore funding models for the independent food sector to help more businesses of this type prosper. The pilot will be delivered in partnership with the Plunkett Foundation, working with food network London Food Link. The Plunkett Foundation will work with four small food businesses to help them expand with each working towards providing 10 or more people with jobs, training or apprenticeship opportunities over this period.
The businesses will be offered expert advice with the option of low-cost finance from Triodos Bank, a bank that is committed to working with ethical enterprises that promote social, cultural and environmental change. The results of the trial will be used to design future phases of the Greater London Authority project with the aim of growing the number of London’s community-run food businesses.
The West London organisations taking part in the pilot are Field to Fork Organics Co-operative – a community-run fruit and veg box scheme run on the successful ‘Growing Communities’ model – and Cultivate London – A horticultural social enterprise which operates a number of innovative urban farms based across formerly disused sites in West London.
Boris Johnson, said: “From urban farms to bustling street markets, London’s food scene is one of the most diverse and exciting in the world. I am pleased to support Rosie’s initiative seeking to fuse Londoners’ passion for food with their entrepreneurial spirit to show that it’s possible to cook up an idea that doesn’t just result in something tasty to eat, but that gets people into our town centres, into employment and delivers wider community benefits to boot.”
Rosie Boycott, the Mayor’s Food Advisor and Chair of the London Food Board, said: “The capital’s food sector is a vital and vibrant part of London life. Increasingly people are seeing it as a great way to convert a personal passion into a thriving businesses not just to make money, but to improve their communities as well. We want to show that these enterprises can deliver economic and social benefits. The organisations we’ve selected are already doing some amazing work bringing great food to Londoners and this pilot will give them the support they need to expand their operations and take what they do to the next level.”