A £5 million fund to promote regional food products would be set up if the SNP is re-elected, Nicola Sturgeon has pledged.

The SNP leader and First Minister promised island brands would benefit from extra cash as she continued her tour of the Northern Isles with a visit to Orkney.

The fund will be used to help rural food producers overcome barriers in growing their business and explore new domestic and international markets.

Ms Sturgeon, who was campaigning with Orkney SNP candidate Donna Heddle, also highlighted her party’s plans to hand marine Crown Estate revenues to coastal and island communities when new powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The SNP have presided over a huge increase in the success of the food and drink sector. Food and drink exports have increased by 43 per cent and we have increased sales of Scottish food and drink brands by 36 per cent.

“Our community food fund is helping to promote food tourism, farmers’ markets and food festivals, and we’ve increased the number of protected food names.

“Of course, this success is testament to the first-class quality of the produce for which our country is famous – and if re-elected an SNP government will build further on that success by setting up a £5 million fund to promote island and regional food and drink brands at home and around the world.

“This fund will be used to increase marketing opportunities for our rural food and drink brands, explore new export opportunities and provide investment.

“We’ll also put the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament to full effect – our plans to ensure local communities benefit fully from Crown Estate revenues is a welcome, long-overdue move which the SNP has long advocated.”

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