Cornwall Learning Journey
We recently hosted a learning journey to Cornwall which Scottish Regional Food Group leaders attended. Here is a blog post from Julia Bryce, Regional Food Group leader of North East Scotland Food and Drink Network.
There are a lot of similarities between Cornwall and the north-east of Scotland.
The coast is an obvious observation, as is the rolling countryside and the Cornish people’s love of the outdoors. But look closer and you’ll find both regions also have a world-renowned food and drink offering.
Celebrating the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status of four different products, each with a stellar reputation and unique characteristics, Cornwall also boasts celebrity ambassadors such as Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, who have helped drive food tourism to the county over the years.
The establishment of Cornwall Food and Drink has also played a huge role in putting the area on the map, something I discovered alongside eight other Scottish Regional Food Group leaders on a recent Learning Journey hosted by Scotland Food & Drink.
Cream of the crop
Visiting more than 16 different sites from a sustainable orchard that has reinvented itself with a strong focus on food security, to a second-generation dairy farm that is the sole producer of Cornish Yarg cheese, to Cornwall’s fourth biggest pasty producer and a field-to-bottle distillery that produces one of the world’s best vodkas, there is an undeniable passion for quality and heritage here.
During our trip, it was clear the younger generation is eager to push businesses into new territories, challenging the norm by continuing to innovate and diversify these long-standing and new establishments. Otto Mead, 25, second generation at Lynher Dairies is a perfect example of this.
Similarly, to Scotland, growing, breeding, and nurturing produce is at the heart of Cornwall’s food sector. And it is the farmers, bakers, fishermen, chefs, bartenders, and others who ensure this rich, world-renowned offering is best represented to locals and tourists alike.
For instance, the way local bakers and dairy farmers have defended and protected the Cornish pasty and Cornish clotted cream shows the importance of safeguarding the image and reputation of these famed and beloved products. The Cornish people take pride in what they offer and are conscious of the strong brand they have crafted around their region’s larder.
Thousands of tourists’ flock to Cornwall each year for exclusive food and drink experiences. One example of a venue offering something unique is Argoe in Newlyn where owner Rich Adams serves up sustainably sourced ‘forgotten fish’ that diners won’t find on other menus.
The Great Cornish Food Store is another outstanding example of collaboration. Situated within a Waitrose store in Truro, 5,000 sq. ft of space is dedicated to local produce, with 75% of products from Cornwall and the further 25% from Devon. This revolutionary shop allows shoppers of Waitrose the opportunity to venture through and explore a whole new world of opportunity while uncovering new brands that contribute to the economic growth of Cornwall itself.
5 key takeaways
But what did this group of individuals from every corner of Scotland learn?
- Cornish produce has a visible, strong, and well-respected reputation.
- PGI protection is crucial for preserving the authenticity of Cornwall's prized products, ensuring their recipes remain untouched and true to their original heritage.
- Strong efforts are being made to involve young individuals in the industry that include establishing Young Fishermen’s Networks and appointing them to key senior roles.
- Cornwall’s strong focus on to becoming carbon neutral and more sustainable with automation, wind, solar and geothermal energy, electric and hydrogen is clear and progress can be viewed throughout the region.
- The Eden Effect – how the Eden Project has widely benefitted the area by partnering and showcasing local producers while also bringing more tourism to the area, thus impacting hospitality and other sectors.
The four PGI protected products include: Cornish clotted cream, Cornish sardines, Cornish pasty and Fal Oyster
The businesses visited on the trip include:
- New Quay Orchard
- Eden Project
- Colwith Farm Distillery
- Trewithen Dairy
- Ukranian Culture
- Lynher Dairies
- Riviera Produce
- Cornish Fish Producers at Newlyn Harbour
- Great Cornish Food Store
- Cornish Permier Pasties
- Rick Stein’s St Petrocs Bistro
- The National Lobster Hatchery
- Watergate Bay
- Nimbus Kitchen