Northumberland’s accreditation scheme for food producers has joined a new national group in a bid for "a strong collective voice" amid Covid-19 and Brexit.

Food From England has been created from more than 30 regional groups which represent more than 43,000 businesses.

It will specifically support small and medium-sized businesses by providing a unified platform from which to communicate the industry’s needs to relevant Government agencies and departments, while encouraging consumers to keep supporting their local food and drink producers.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food and one of the founding Food From England members, said: “The past eight months have seen disaster and innovation within the regional food and drink sector.

“Consumers across the country are now realising the importance of connections across the food and drink supply chain – connections that have suddenly become more urgent, closer, simpler and friendlier as a result of coronavirus.”

Northumberland County Council’s Produced in Northumberland (PIN) is among those to sign up.

Coun. Richard Wearmouth, the cabinet member for business and tourism, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult time for our food and drink industry. As a council, we have been doing all we can to continue to support this sector to ensure its recovery after Covid.

“We have seen a number of businesses developing innovative processes and responding to the crisis quickly to ensure they can continue to meet customer demand and in some cases attract new business online.

“We are looking forward to working as part of the Food From England group to continue to lobby the Government to look at ways of safeguarding this industry which plays such a huge part in Northumberland’s economy.

“Now more than ever, our businesses need people to shop local, shop Northumberland.”

Jackie Maxwell, of Doddington Dairy – a member of PIN – added: “This year has been one of the most difficult years we’ve faced running a food business with the unprecedented challenges of Covid, consequent lockdowns and Government food initiatives running alongside changes in customer purchasing behaviour.

“None of these challenges are unique to one business. We have always believed that by working together the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, so we look forward to Food From England giving our industry a stronger voice as we move forward into even more turbulent times with Brexit ahead.”