Regional projects and businesses across Scotland have been awarded funding to promote locally sourced food and drink.

A total of 21 projects will share £95,550 from the Connect Local Regional Food Fund.

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon announced the funding on a visit to I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger in Edinburgh where she met producers from Fine Cheesemakers of Scotland.

The group has been awarded £3,450 for a range of projects, including ways to promote cheese as a pairing to whisky at distillery visitor centres and in restaurants.

Ms Gougeon said:

“I have been hugely impressed by the standard and range of food and drink initiatives across Scotland.

“Innovative projects like these not only help local economies grow, they also promote the importance of locally produced food and drink and the environmental benefits of sourcing produce close to home.

“This fund helps collaborative groups such as Fine Cheesemakers of Scotland create new opportunities for small businesses and producers and promotes Scotland’s world-leading food and drink sector.”

Ceri Ritchie, Project Manager of Connect Local, said:

“This latest round of funding has shown there is there is a great deal of energy for regional food projects that benefit local communities.

“The judges were hugely impressed with the calibre of applications, with some fantastic ideas and initiatives for collaborative projects in all corners of Scotland. Congratulations to all the recipients and we look forward to celebrating and promoting their successes over the coming months”

Fine Cheesemakers of Scotland chair Jane Stewart said:

“We are delighted to be a recipient of the Regional Food Fund Award. One of our objectives is to collaborate to raise awareness of the diverse range of artisan cheeses made across Scotland and this funding allows us to increase our marketing activity.

“We are proud to be producing award-winning cheeses and excited about targeting different sectors so more people have the opportunity to enjoy our wonderful cheeses, which are part of the diverse selection of food and drink Scotland has to offer the world.”