KEY members of Hampshire’s food production industry were given a behind the scene look at one of the county’s biggest food success stories.

Since moving to Hampshire, Harvest Fine Foods has seen a multi-million pound growth and its staff increase by almost a third.

The company was the venue for Hampshire Fare farmers, producers and chefs monthly networking event.

Six months ago the firm, a privately owned regional wholesaler of fresh fruit, vegetables, frozen and chilled foods moved from Christchurch in Dorset to its new home in Totton.

Managing director Richard Strongman said: “In the last three years the greatest growth in our business has been in Hampshire.

“We supply state and private schools, NHS hospital trusts, hotels, pubs, restaurants and outside caterers.

“The move to Hampshire has allowed us to accept new business that we had been having to turn away due to reaching maximum capacity in our old premises.”

Harvest Fine Foods invested £1.25 million in the move and getting the new site at South Hampshire Industrial Park, Brunel Road, Totton, ready for service.

The company also received a Bridging the Gap Grant from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership facilitated by Hampshire County Council’s Economic Development team.

The company’s own investment and the grant have ensured that the new 24-hour facility is fit for purpose with new refrigeration, doors and delivery bays.

The new facility more than doubles the size of the premises which has allowed the company to already increase their number of employees from 100 to 130 and has added £3.5 million growth this financial year.

The company projects an annual growth of in excess of £30 million over the next five years.

One area the company aims to help is through the delivery of local Hampshire products.

Harvest Fine Foods is a strategic partner of Hampshire Fare the local food group and works closely with its members to offer routes to market and back-hauling local produce.

During the networking event the group was given a behind the scenes tour of the premises to understand the logistics behind the 24-hour operation.

It was also an opportunity for people involved in all stages of the local food chain to meet and informally discuss ideas and business.

Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for economic development at Hampshire County Council, was among those to attend.

He said: “Supporting high growth, high quality businesses is a key priority for the county council, and Harvest Fine Foods is a prime example.

“Richard ensures that Harvest Fine Foods demonstrates a truly customer orientated culture and we wish him and the company every success in the future.”