Aquaculture, Agri-tech, food & drink

Dorset has a very long and proud tradition of farming, which has helped to shape Dorset’s beautiful landscape.

Dorset and Sustainable Aquaculture

Dorset has been awarded a High Potential Opportunity in Aquaculture by the Department for International Trade supporting the opportunity to enter the UK aquaculture market to meet growing national and global demand for fish, shellfish and aquatic plants by developing and deploying technologies.

In August 2020, the Dorset Coast Forum released the Dorset Mariculture Strategy. This is a five year plan to develop local aquaculture, find out more about the strategy on our news page 'Dorset Mariculture Strategy Launches' or on the aquaculture section of the Dorset Coast Forum website.

To find out more about Dorset & Devon Aquaculture, includes local investment opportunities and successful aquaculture businesses thriving in Dorset.

Dorset is home to large aquaculture players. For example, Weymouth is home to Cefas (Centre for Environment Fisheries & Aquaculture Science). Cefas is a world leader in marine science and technology, providing innovative solutions for the aquatic environment, biodiversity and food security.


Maritime UK South West (MUK SW) brings together the breadth of South West England’s ocean economy, working in partnership to champion, grow and clean the marine sector. By aligning the region’s existing and emerging strengths, MUK SW will create a circular knowledge economy enabling government, industry and academia to work together at pace, with unified purpose, to deliver clean sector growth building practical “development to delivery” pathways.

The South West Aquaculture Network (SWAN), part of MUK SW, aims to sustainably enhance aquaculture production in line with the evolving national aquaculture strategy and international development goals1. SWAN is comprised of diverse members representing industry, academia and public sector organisations, providing distinct capabilities including:

  • unique aquaculture facilities
  • technical and operational knowledge
  • research and innovation development
  • partnerships and engagements


#DorsetAquaBites is a Dorset LEP social media campaign which aims to create conversation around the aquaculture sector in Dorset. The campaign supports the upcoming OH20 Aquaculture Expo and raises awareness of existing businesses, pointing them towards developing technologies and educating people on benefits that a booming aquaculture industry can bring economically, socially and environmentally to Dorset, the UK and the planet.

Check out the campaign on social media at #DorsetAquaBites on Twitter.

We want to hear what about anything aquaculture in Dorset. You can tweet us on Twitter @DorsetLEP or follow us on LinkedIn at Dorset LEP.

Watch a #DorsetAquaBites campaign video below. Hooke Springs Trout Farm is a west Dorset based producer of brown and rainbow trout for UK fisheries. Mark Firth shows us his thriving farm and tells us why Dorset is 'second to none' for fin-fish aquaculture!


Dorset’s AgriTech sector is currently worth £108m and employs around 700 people. Dorset provides innovative start-ups and high-growth companies with fully-funded support to locate and grow their businesses through a One Health collaborative which includes land management and property locator, aquaculture expertise, business showcasing/support and bid writing support resources.

Read more about the Agritech opportunities in Dorset

Dorset Innovation Park is an advanced engineering cluster of excellence for the South West and houses an AgriTech Innovation Centre focused on innovations in farming ventilation systems. Plans for growth include the development of a University Centre and Business Hub, which will help incubate and accelerate businesses, with one of its aims being to generate a pipeline of 40 new high-worth clean-growth One Health businesses by 2030.

Dorset puts this key sector at the heart of its promotion and each year engages in the Department for International Trade’s Game-Changing Technologies for Agriculture in London which focuses on new technologies into agriculture to meet market demand. 

We also hold agri-tech events each year at Kingston Maurward College to maintain momentum in this high profile sector.

Luke Rake, Principal of Kingston Maurward College and Chair of the Dorset LEP Rural Enterprise Group states:

“Kingston Maurward has a proud history of ensuring the next generation of Dorset farmers have the skills and technology they need to ensure food security for the country since its foundation some 70 years ago. Hosting the Agri-tech conference was a great opportunity to act as a hub for the sector, bringing the latest technology and thought-leaders together, to help exchange ideas and inspire the next generation of food producers. Technology continues to move at an increasing pace, and is now as focused on reducing costs, improving environmental sensitivity and sustainability as improving yields. By bringing together key players in the sector, Kingston Maurward was alive with activity during the day and this bodes very well for the future."

As in other key sectors within the South West, the region's six Local Enterprise Partnerships are working together to promote the strength of the agri-tech sector to attract further inward investment and to focus attention on the centres of excellence within the region.



Dairy farming

Dorset dairy farming is of national importance, providing milk for London and the South East. Beef and sheep grazing maintain the landscape, and wheat, barley and rape are the key arable crops grown. Farming also plays a key part in the economic activity of rural Dorset.

Dorset is home to Kingston Maurward College, which provides education and training in agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture and farming. The college has the Kingston Building, an agri-tech centre, which comprises an agricultural classroom, an IT suite, a high spec workshop and machinery facilities including a fleet of tractors, a GPS tractor, plough, sprayer and variable rate drill. It helps to position Kingston Maurward College at the forefront of agricultural training facilities in the region.


Dorset Food & Drink

Dorset is already home to many internationally recognised brands such as Organix, Jordans Ryvita, Dorset Cereals, Addo Food Group, Badger Beers, Thomas J Fudge, Clipper Teas, Olives et Al, Ford Farms, Chococo, Purbeck Ice Cream and Moores Biscuits. 

The area also prides itself on its wealth of local and artisan food and drink producers creating everything from fantastic cheeses and breads to gin and chutneys. Dorset proudly boasts two breweries preserved in their traditional family ownership: Hall & Woodhouse at Blandford St Mary and Palmers in Bridport. Both breweries have over 200 years of brewing history and expertise. Hall & Woodhouse currently operates 220 public houses across the South of England.

Dorset Food & Drink is a member-based organisation with a special trademarked brand overseen by the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team. It represents Dorset's food and drink business community bringing a strong and vibrant sector together under one banner.

Several celebrity chefs have opened award-winning restaurants in Dorset in recent years, including Mark Hix of “The Ivy” and “Le Caprice” in London and now has his oyster house restaurant in Lyme Regis. The original River Cottage television series was filmed just outside Bridport with Hugh Fernley-Whitingstall promoting local produce and Lesley Waters runs her famed cookery school in Abbots Hill Farm in West Dorset. Altogether, they have helped to raise the profile of local, sustainably produced food.

There is a great range of local food and drink on offer in Dorset, including meat, fish, shellfish, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and cheese, wines, cider and beer. Additionally, Dorset has amazing producers of grocery and delicatessen items, as well as bakeries still baking in original family ownership.

Bournemouth and Poole is a founding member of the international Sustainable Food City Network and has become the world’s first Sustainable Fish City. Find out more about this pledge at