Aldi sign© Tim Scrivener/REX/Shutterstock

Retailer Aldi has launched a venture to help small-scale food and drink businesses become regular suppliers of its outlets in Scotland.

Aldi’s Scottish Small Supplier Development Programme will offer qualifying businesses subsidised costs and support from a dedicated member of the Quality Assurance team.

The adviser will give insight and coaching from the point where businesses join the programme until their product reaches the shelves.

Aldi, the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket, has 78 stores north of the border and aims to increase Scottish-produced lines from 350 to 400 under the programme.

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It will work alongside the Scottish government-backed Scotland Food & Drink organisation to get as many companies involved as possible.

Aldi’s group buying director in Scotland, Graham Nicolson, said: “For a lot of small food and drink businesses, trying to secure a listing with a major retailer puts huge pressure on their team.

“We have launched this programme to make it easier for companies to get their products on to our shelves and to give our customers access to the most exciting and best-quality new products from Scotland.”

The programme was announced at the official opening of Aldi’s multimillion-pound headquarters in Bathgate, West Lothian.

Chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink James Withers described the move as “a fantastic opportunity which would enable more Scottish producers to secure their first retail listing and provide them with insight into the way Aldi worked”.

“We know from extensive research that 70% of Scots believe the availability of locally sourced products is important. This initiative will help to meet consumers’ appetites for Scottish products and I encourage our smaller producers to get involved,” Mr Withers said.

Food and drink companies in Scotland with ambitions to take their product from concept to shelf and see it stocked in Aldi can apply for the Scottish Small Supplier Development programme by contacting scottishsuppliers@aldi.co.uk.

Selection for the programme will be based on turnover and staff numbers. The scheme is not open to companies that supply retailer own-label products for another major UK supermarket.