A new review commissioned to further develop Scotland's reputation as the best place in the world to run a food and drink business has got the green light by Scottish Government.
The review will be led by industry veterans Scotland Food & Drink and will identify options in which Scotland can progress and further more promote itself and support its future economic growth, according to reports.
Dennis Overton, Scotland Food & Drink's Vice Chairman, commented: "The Scottish food and drink sector is one of the country’s great successes stories and is on track to reach the target of £16.5bn by 2017. However, we are ambitious still. There is tremendous opportunity to improve further the collaboration already in place.
"We need to push the boundaries of how industry and government work together if we’re to stay ahead in an extremely competitive global market and create the best possible operating environment for businesses."
According to industry body Scotland Food & Drink, Scotland's best performing domestic sector has been food and drink which has experienced its fastest growing exports in recent years. With the nation developing an internationally recognised culture of collaboration with Scotland Food & Drink, sales of Scottish brands and produce in the UK have risen by over 35 per cent since 2007. In the same time period, exports have risen by over 50 per cent. The collaboration has also brought trade associations and Scottish Government together around a single strategy and action plan. The said strategy took on the industry back in 2007 and was estimated to be worth £10bn but is now at a current value of £14bn with projections of £16.5bn for 2017.
Chairing and leading the review, Mr Overton has recently appointed a group to support the work and is now appealing for views and opinions as to how take further progress the food and drink industry. The expert group entails Gareth Baird, farmer and Scotland Food & Drink Board representative, Allan Bowie, NFU Scotland President, Graeme Dickson, Director General Enterprise at Environment and Innovation (Scottish Government), Alasdair Dobson, MD at Taste of Arran Managing, Paul Grant, Chairman MacKays Ltd and Chairman at Scottish Dairy Board. Sarah Mackie, former Head of Regional Sourcing at Tesco, is also one of the experts appointed by Mr. Overton.
Commenting on the review Mr. Overton said: “I’d ask anyone with views on how to take the food and drink sector to even greater successes to share them with the group by the end of August.”
Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has commissioned the review. Lochhead comments: "Scotland’s booming food and drink industry is already worth around £14 billion a year to the Scottish economy, and has smashed its growth targets years ahead of schedule. But I firmly believe we have only scratched the surface of what is possible, and that we can do even better."
Ministers will be presented with a report of recommendations for further collaboration in the food and drink sector in Scotland by November 2015.
Lochhead also added: “That is why, in our Year of Food and Drink, I have challenged Scotland Food & Drink to explore options to help companies within the sector reap the benefits of joint working and maximising their links to boost growth in the industry. By working more effectively together and building on our strengths, we will be able to seize upon the even greater success that is within our grasp as Scotland journeys towards becoming a Good Food Nation.”
• The remit of the group and an open letter from Richard Lochhead MSP can be found at http://foodanddrink.scot/building-on-success.
Submissions and ideas to be considered as part of this review should be sent to Ewan.Scott2@scotland.gsi.gov.uk by 31th August 2015.