HEFF chief executive Karen Davies

Regional food groups remain upbeat about their future despite the demise of Heart of England Fine Foods, but some admitted they have had to take drastic action to survive.

HEFF entered voluntary liquidation last week and said the government - which has cut funding to regional food groups - had been “short-sighted” in not recognising the added value it brought to the industry.

This week, Tastes of Anglia CEO Robert Gunn said his organisation had “suffered badly and had to cut back to the roots to survive”. Tastes of Anglia had been acquired by local distribution network Elveden Farms last October and had been rebuilt as a commercially based foundation.

The group had a “new focus,” added Gunn, and was now in discussion with other regional and national organisations to develop its activities beyond East Anglia.

Cornwall Food and Drink MD Ruth Huxley agreed the challenges had been tough but said the organisation, which has been fully self-funded since this January, remained “upbeat”.

“We have never been fully funded so have always had to take the long and realistic view and understand the commercial imperative,” she said.

Funding restraints meant organisations had to be increasingly careful about the projects, events and services supported, added others.

Deliciously Yorkshire, for example, has cut its technical service department, which offered advice on health & safety issues, hygiene, testing and research. But the group said it was still able to offers members a strong network of contacts.

“Smaller producers use us on a day-to-day basis with help finding new suppliers,” said membership manager Jo Satariano, adding this was the sort of advice former HEFF members would miss.

“There will not be one place for them to source information and help. It is all extra time and energy they will have to put into finding these things out.”

It was a view echoed by former HEFF director Anthony Froggatt, who said businesses could “float around without guidance.”