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Business / Food festival axed as Taste of Shetland changes direction

Shetland Oyster Company's Winston Brown at the 2023 festival alongside Claire White. Photo: Dave Donaldson

THE ANNUAL Taste of Shetland food festival is to be discontinued as part of a major overhaul of the work Shetland Food & Drink is doing on behalf of its members.

Hugely popular to begin with, the two-day autumn food and drink festival has lately been suffering from decreasing numbers of people attending, as well as fewer local producers exhibiting.

A major evaluation of the organisation’s work has now concluded that focssing on other activities would be a more beneficial way of making the most of limited resources.

Newly appointed development officer Joy Duncan said the consensus was that the food festival had “peaked”.

“The main thing that came out of the evaluation was that members didn’t want the food festival, and the reasons being: since Brexit and post-Covid the biggest problem that businesses have is staffing,” she said.

“Local producers didn’t have the staff to man their businesses and the food festival, so they felt they couldn’t send a stand to the food festival.”

As part of her new job, Duncan will now concentrate on developing a local producers’ trail, and where to eat guide as well as organising events such as a local seafood week, as well as promoting local vegetable production.

There will also be a guide to local cake fridges and honesty boxes.

Shetland Food & Drink is also overhauling its current membership structure and as part of that it is now are also offering membership options for micro businesses, charities as well as for supporters of the local food scene.

And Duncan confirmed that the organisation would continue to showcase its work during Shetland Wool Week and the Lerwick Up Helly Aa celebrations.

She added: “Taste of Shetland shall continue to support and campaign for our members in whatever way we can, and we continue to be the collective voice representing the sector at a time when help is greatly needed.”

Anyone wanting to sign up to become a new member of Shetland Food & Drink should contact Joy Duncan on 07870 745033 or email info@tasteofshetland.com

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