A range of Scottish food and drink businesses have joined the Scotland Food and Drink support local directory ahead of its launch.

Created by the industry body, Scotland Food & Drink, the support local directory aims to connect consumers directly with food and drink businesses, including many of those who have had to refocus offerings due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions.

A month on since the nation-wide lockdown came into effect, many businesses which previously supplied the food service and hospitality sector have had to change to consumer-facing e-commerce to continue trading.

At the same time, consumers have increasingly turned their attention to online purchasing and there is a renewed interest in supporting local businesses.

How does the directory work?

The platform will allow consumers to browse Scottish food and drink suppliers and search by product type and location.

The online resource aims to increase its reach across Scotland and across sectors, calling for suppliers of all sizes to sign up to the service.

Supporting local suppliers was one of the things mentioned by Scotland Food and Drink CEO James Withers in our podcast interview, when asked how consumers can help businesses at this time.

He said: “If there’s one thing the general public can do to help get Scotland through this crisis, is to support businesses in their community by buying local.

“That might mean buying differently, but look at how you can connect with local producers to get direct deliveries – this may be your local shops and convenience stores. I’d also urge shoppers to look out for local Scottish products as well. These things will help get these businesses through an unprecedented challenge at the moment.”

Lucy Husband, UK market development director at Scotland Food and Drink, said: “The impact of COVID-19 restrictions has changed the way we shop and forced many food and drink businesses to significantly adapt their approaches.

“While more and more of us are shopping for food and drink online, the appetite for high-quality, local products remains strong.

“In fact, our research shows that 70 per cent of Scottish consumers believe it’s important to have locally sourced produce available, and 49 per cent of Scottish shoppers also claim they would be willing to pay more for Scottish produce.

“We’re proud to launch support local to meet that demand and provide a useful platform for businesses to reach new consumers.

“In this incredibly difficult time for so many people, food and drink producers have shown resilience in their ability to innovate and adapt.

“Scotland boasts some of the best food and drink products in the world, and we should all endeavour to support local producers and enjoy the fruits of Scotland’s larder.”

Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary said: “Scotland’s food and drink is world renowned and has been one of our most successful contributors to the economy in recent times.

“Overnight that changed for many home grown producers and manufacturers, so it is vital that we all do what we can to support Scottish businesses.

“The new support local website will give people the chance to buy fantastic locally sourced and locally produced food and drink direct at the click of a button from home.

“It’s great to see so many Scottish companies have signed up to showcase their produce through the portal already, and I hope to see many more joining. There has never been a more important time to promote and buy great Scottish produce.

“I urge everyone to support this great initiative and help make it a success.”

Supplier backing for the support local directory

Jill Clark, owner of Connage Highland Dairy near Inverness, said: “Things have been tough but we have been so touched by the support we have received from customers old and new, both locally and nationwide.

“There have been big changes at Connage – more local deliveries, more products online, plans for a cheese vending machine put into action and very sadly some of our team furloughed – but I think this is teaching us all about patience and the importance of connection.

“Small businesses can be a lifeline for many, especially in rural areas, and in turn those who continue to shop with us are our lifeline. The relationship serves to reduce loneliness and keep the local economy going.

“I am optimistic that this surge in support for local shopping will continue beyond current circumstances and I am certainly still enormously proud to be part of Scotland’s resilient food and drink industry.”

Scott Smith, chef  and co-owner of Edinburgh restaurant Fhior, is supporting the restaurant’s food and drink suppliers through his Root to Market initiative. He said: “The landscape of the hospitality industry has changed so dramatically over the past weeks.

“However the need for food hasn’t, and the issue of how to get that to people has been a huge challenge that thankfully, so many independent businesses have taken up.”

“It is so important that we continue to create new routes for our small, local producers to get their food to the public in the safest way possible.

“It has been amazing to see such a wave of people getting behind their local economies, supporting our country’s producers and protecting local jobs. In the midst of huge uncertainty and the devastation caused by this crisis, we are seeing a renewed sense of community and care for each other.”

Scran season 2: How Scotland’s food industry can overcome the crisis – with James Withers, Mark Greenaway and Petra Wetzel

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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