Delivering on our national strategy, ‘Sustaining Scotland. Supplying the World.’

We launched the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s industry strategy in June 2023 with the aim of making Scotland the best place in the world to own, operate, and work for a food and drink business. Here, we outline our progress so far.

Scotland Food & Drink news
Published: 26/02/2024

We launched the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s industry strategy in June 2023 with the aim of making Scotland the best place in the world to own, operate, and work for a food and drink business.

In the strategy we recognised the recent challenges in the market and some of these continue to put businesses under pressure, but we also identified what a great industry we have in Scotland and the potential for that industry to continue to grow with our support and by providing direction to market opportunities.

The strategy and its delivery plan, funded by the Scottish Government, has a bold vision and we can only realise that vision when we collaborate to deliver it.

Since the launch, partners, stakeholders and businesses have been hard at work to deliver on the objectives we laid out and to deliver tangible benefits for the whole industry. To provide updates on the seven key programmes, the Partnership came together recently to share lessons, progress and next steps.

This was the first time that everyone had come together in one place and the sheer numbers of people involved demonstrate the commitment that is, and has, been made by everyone involved in the Partnership to developing and growing our industry.

Within the Delivery Plan we have identified seven enablers that will allow us to develop and support our businesses, sectors and industry and, critically, to drive growth.  What struck me (and I live and breathe this is every day) is the depth of activity that is now underway to support our three missions:

1. Resilience

2. Growth

3. Sustainability

The event also significant in that each of the seven Programme Sponsors shared the progress of their work and there has been enormous progress since June 2023 when the First Minister, Humza Yousaf launched the strategy.

Here are some of the headline updates.

Markets are so fundamental to business that they are naturally the first priority area for the strategy. Without them we don’t have anywhere to sell the fruits of Scotland’s larder.  We have been developing the new UK market strategy (which includes Scotland) and refreshing the export strategy.  Both are truly collaborative pieces of work involving many of our Partners, customers as well as collecting feedback from businesses as to how we can support their in-market needs. One great example of the market development work that we do is Showcasing Scotland - next week we welcome 130 international and UK buyers to Edinburgh to meet with a wide range of producers across all of our key sectors.

Both the export and UK market strategies will be unveiled by summer. Within both pieces of work, we identify key market priorities and the activities that we will put in place to support development opportunities. It has been great to welcome Jamie Durkin into the team and who is now working in London Scotland House London – something that we have talked about for many years as it is such an important market both from an interest in premium, speciality food, but also because it is where many of our customers are based. I’m looking forward to supporting Jamie in his work and it’s also great that we have been able to secure a base for him at Scotland House which will provide us with a home in the capital from which we can build our profile and presence in London.

To understand where market opportunities are we need insight, so having been involved in designing and launching The Knowledge Bank I’m delighted to see it continue to build momentum and by working alongside our UK Market Development team deliver insight to both our customers and businesses.

There are almost 1,000 users registered for and the programme of insight being delivered continues to highlight market and consumer behaviour as well as looking to the future trends. The expertise being developed by the team around Provenance is first class and continues to receive strong interest from customers. And of course the team at The Knowledge Bank will be supporting the development of the UK and Export market strategies.

The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership Net Zero Commitment was established during COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 and reiterates our commitment to the broader theme of sustainability from farm to fork. This is a critical work programme and one that not only will help our industry contribute in a positive way to tackling climate change, but also offers us the opportunities for commercial advantage.

Looking forwards there is a real opportunity to develop our support for the industry and particularly around Scope 3 emissions.

Access to Finance/Investment is a new area of work for the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership and involving Opportunity North East Limited - this work is critical to help deliver not only the growth mission but also the resilience and sustainability missions of the strategy. Initial research work is underway with those involved in investment and business intelligence is providing us with insight into what practical guidance and support businesses need around the investor and finance landscape. This is an exciting development for the work of the Partnership and one that is critical to unlocking our growth potential.

The strategy isn’t a report to be shelved and referred to in press releases. It’s a living, breathing thing that guides everything we do to make Scotland the best place in the world to own, operate, and work for a food and drink business.

There are countless programmes and initiatives that I’ve not named here, but are equally as important to achieving that overarching mission. With collaboration at the heart of everything we do, we will continue to provide updates on our progress towards delivery on the strategy and the ways in which the whole sector can and should get involved.

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