We use cookies to make your experience of our website better. Some of these are set by third party Google Analytics to help us analyse website traffic. To comply with privacy regulations, we require your consent to set these cookies. If you continue to use the site without selecting an option we will assume you are happy for us to use cookies.

Boom Time for Scottish Food and Drink

Boom Time for Scottish Food and Drink

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight has seen a feast of positive news.

By way of an amuse-bouche on the eve of the Fortnight’s opening, the Bank of Scotland revealed a prediction of 5,600 new jobs for the Scottish food and drink sector over the next five years in its report entitled “An Appetite for Growth”.

Then, fresh from his keynote address at The Scotsman’s second annual food and drink conference, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, announced that with record turnover of more than £13 billion in 2011, the sector had broken through its 2017 target some six years early. 

And it was also announced recently that an application is being lodged for Dundee Cake to join such celebrated Scottish foods as Stornoway Black Pudding and Scotch Beef, and indeed Parma Ham and Champagne, in enjoying protected geographical indication (PGI) status.

As one of Scotland’s fastest-growing industries against a backdrop of austerity, food and drink arguably has much reason to be cheerful.  Yet, complacency is not on the menu.

Scotland Food & Drink last week set an ambitious new target of £16.5 billion turnover by 2017, which includes the £7.1 billion export target announced last year. 

The export target may form less than half of the overall goal, but exporting is commanding more than its fair share of topical discussion in the sector.  Growth by export is the dish of the day. 

Speaking at the conference, James Withers, CEO of Scotland Food & Drink, urged Scotland’s producers to venture into new markets to tell the story of Scotland’s rich natural larder and the provenance of its produce.  He argued that this story can set us apart overseas and is the envy of other countries. 

The hugely successful whisky industry has undoubtedly created a halo effect from which other Scottish products can stand to benefit.  Yet while growing middle classes in high-growth markets such as China and Brazil present an opportunity to exploit that halo effect, new entrants to the export market face such barriers as a lack of local knowledge and complex logistics. 

Yet, these barriers, as highlighted in the BoS report, are firmly on the radar of Scottish Development International, which is working together with Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Government to draw up a new export strategy.

At the conference, Lochhead asserted his confidence in Scotland’s producers by setting Scotland’s food sector the challenge of matching the export success of the whisky sector.

Scotland’s producers are being urged to be ambitious and to exploit the opportunities for overseas growth before them in this “boom time” for Scottish food and drink and the demand for quality produce with a provenance story to tell.

So as Dundee Cake prepares to tell the story of its humble beginnings as an offshoot from Janet Keiller’s Dundee marmalade business to the European Commission, perhaps we will see other Scottish producers take their brands, and the stories behind them, to an international stage. 

Rona Dennison
Senior Associate

Burness admin