New policy aims to boost Scottish food

The Scottish Government has launched the first-ever national food and drink policy for Scotland.

‘Recipe for Success’ was unveiled by rural affairs and environment secretary Richard Lochhead at the Royal Highland Show. It sets out how to get more Scottish food onto menus in hotels, restaurants, cafes and pubs, plus outlines how support can be given to farmers markets, farm shops and local food initiatives across Scotland.

Measures include a new strategy for the food and drink manufacturing sector to increase sales by a third to £10bn by 2017; a new charter with supermarkets who have committed to playing their part in taking forward the national food and drink policy; and another £3.3m from the Food Processing and Marketing Grants Scheme for 16 new projects.

“Sales of Scottish produce have soared by a stunning 21% and Scottish food exports to countries outside the UK increased by 16% between early 2007 and early 2009,” Mr Lochhead said.

“Despite the economic downturn there is much to be proud of – and we aim to build on this success story. We expect to create more jobs, sales and exports as we invest the £75m we have committed to spend as part of plans to expand our markets.”

The policy was welcomed by NFU Scotland, which said it must mark the start of renewed steps to strengthening the whole industry and ultimately the policy’s success would be judged on results. In particular, NFUS said there was a need for better relationships between supermarkets and their suppliers, improved food education, better labelling and public procurement.

“The supermarkets’ commitment to a new retailer charter must mark the beginning of a more equitable relationship with all their suppliers and not simply be a wall of words that they hide behind,” NFUS chief executive James Withers said.

“The major supermarkets have committed to play their role in ensuring food security in this country and that ultimately boils down to food producers receiving a sustainable return.

“Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this policy is the emphasis on education.  I applaud the recognition by the Scottish Government that more can be done at primary and secondary school level to educate the next generation of consumers on food issues, from its production to processing and consumption.”