As part of the overall objective of the charity, NHI operates across the three counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty to assist in making this amazing part of the UK a place where businesses and communities are sustainable and where there are job and career opportunities for young people. The three key areas of activity for NHI are Food & Drink, Tourism and Community support and leadership.
One of NHI’s most successful initiatives was the creation and development of North Highland Products Ltd (NHP), the trading arm of the charity and the home of the Mey Selections brand. Mey Selections works closely with farmers, local businesses and suppliers to provide a range of high quality, locally sourced and sustainable produce through added value branding. Fostering close relationships with farmers and suppliers is fundamental to the brand in order to ensure full trace-ability and quality livestock and this attention to quality has resulted in the creation of over £1.7m additional income for local farmers through paying premiums for eligible livestock. This work allows NHP to develop routes to market for other producers in the Highlands area contributing to the overall objective of the charity itself. During the past 7 years, NHI created the North Highland Larder, the local food and drink publication, and sponsorship of key industry events, including the Royal Highland Show and Young Highland Chef of the Year. Loch Fyne Oysters are now the brand management partner of NHP and they are taking the brand across the world, alongside their oysters and fish.. This is the perfect combination of a double winning Queen's Award for Industry company and product from the North Highlands which is world class.
NHI's use of tourism as a vehicle for creating sustainable communities resulted in the creation of The North Coast 500 (NC500), widely regarded by the media and experts as the number one touring route in the world. The 516 mile route around the north coast has attracted an audience of 2.3 billion in 2017 and is credited with creating an additional 200 jobs that year and adding an additional £9M to the North Highland economy in 2016. Following its creation and development, NHI's trading company, North Coast 500 Ltd., received private investment, although the charity remains a significant investor.
In the past 7 years, NHI has had a range of involvements with communities, assisting them with fundraising and the development of projects. This remains a key objective of NHI and will be developed in 2018 as we work with specific communities. Given the success of the NC500, NHI is now wanting to work with communities to create projects that benefit the NC500 and derive benefit from the NC500. This will be an ongoing piece of work, but one NHI believes demonstrates leadership and ambition.