Poots launches £1 million equipment fund for micro food businesses

Northern Ireland’s Rural Affairs Minster Edwin Poots has launched a £1 million capital grant scheme to help micro food and drink manufacturing businesses upscale production with the aim of securing new markets.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are available for eligible businesses processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce.

The money can be used to help businesses:

  • Supply the retail or distribution industry;
  • Increase the volume of products they are selling;
  • Grow sales outside Northern Ireland.

Expressions of interest for the scheme will be accepted until April 15, 2021.

Launching the scheme, Minister Poots said: “This £1 million capital equipment grant fund I have launched today, provides an opportunity for existing micro food and drink manufacturing businesses that are processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce to invest in new processing equipment, from a value of between £5,000 and £50,000, which will improve production efficiency, and importantly secure access to new markets and add value to local produce.

It is essential that the projects funded under this scheme provide direct benefits to the Northern Ireland supply chain by improving commercial links between our food processors and the farmers and growers who produce the raw materials, particularly the local farmers and growers.

“I would encourage potential applicants to read the guidance notes online and if they feel they are eligible complete an expression of interest form or if necessary contact my department with any eligibility queries before submitting the form.”

Am I eligible?

The scheme launched is targeted at existing micro food and drink manufacturing enterprises, with a ‘micro-enterprise’ defined as a business that employs less than 10 full-time equivalent employees with an annual turnover of less than £1.8 million.

Businesses must be able to provide two full sets of annual accounts in order to apply.

Eligible businesses may be located in a rural or urban area, but it is essential that the business is processing primary agricultural produce, particularly produce farmed or grown locally.

The minimum grant support available for the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is £5,000 with the maximum amount set at £50,000. The grants will fund up to 50% of eligible costs.