Local producers will meet chefs from across the Midlands today in a bid to encourage more restaurants and catering firms to use their foods.
A two-day conference organised by Heart of England Fine Foods, an organisation working to promote regional produce, will look at some of the current issues for both suppliers and buyers of local foods.
The event, at the Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham, will involve more than 50 Midland-based food producers, offer workshops for producers, and feature some of the region's top chefs cooking with local food.
Internationally acclaimed businessman John Stanley, from Australia, will hold a three-hour workshop on how to grow your business through sourcing quality local and regional produce and improving merchandising.
Mr Stanley was born in the West Midlands before moving to Australia where he developed his food and drink consultancy business.
Chefs including Shaun Hill, who ran the Merchant House in Ludlow, Shropshire, and National Chef of the Year Steve Love, from Love's Restaurant in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, will be among those taking part.
Marcus Adamson, marketing executive at HEFF, said: "This is a great opportunity for local producers to showcase their fabulous products, meet other producers, see and taste the competition, learn new skills to help develop their business, and, ultimately make new contacts with potential buyers."
Free range pig farmer Rob Mercer, of Packington Fields Farm near Lichfield, Staffordshire, is hoping to find new customers at the event.
Packington Fields Farm produces 200 high quality outdoor pigs weekly with all the pigs slaughtered by local butcher Peter Coates.
The free-range side of the pig rearing business developed after Rob returned to the family business from university and took up the challenge.
What started out as a business supplying ten to 15 pigs a week to the local abattoir has now grown upwards of 150 pigs a week.
He said: "Our aim is to raise pigs in the best possible way and in a stressfree environment, which helps improve tenderness and taste.
"I know that the majority of people buy food depending on price - but there are a growing number of people who are looking towards quality, taste and more ethically-produced meat.
"If our sales uplift is anything to go by, the demand is definitely there."
Local businesses set to attend include Coventry-based Berryfields Quality Pork, award-winning turkey producers, Turkey Talk, and farm shop and quality meat producers Farmers Fayre of Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
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