Scotland's Food and Drink
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead
September 5, 2012
It’s a pleasure to be introduced by someone who is doing so much to promote Scotland’s larder, and it’s a pleasure to be here at the Scottish Café where Carina, who is speaking later, and Victor, are playing in our food and drink revolution. Something tells me today’s brunch, which I am certainly staying for, will alone make today worthwhile!
And the other speakers you will hear from today, in their own ways, have taken our nation’s reputation to new heights, and I pay tribute to them all and to everyone else here today who is making such a valuable contribution to a big Scottish success story.
And I am delighted to be here today to help celebrate and promote Scotland’s Food and Drink Fortnight which is all about celebrating and promoting our larder.
Each year the fortnight goes from strength to strength with activities celebrating our first class produce the length and breadth of the country.
Today’s conference gives us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the industry’s success.
Success of the Food and Drink Sector
And what success! The facts speak for themselves.
Just think - Food and Drink, as we speak, is the strongest performing industry sector in Scotland.
Turnover has grown by 6% and Gross value added (GVA) by food and drink companies grew by 9%.
The Scottish Food and Drink manufacturing sector has consistently outperformed UK Food and Drink Manufacturing, Scottish Manufacturing and the wider Scottish Economy.
Exports are another area to celebrate. Export targets have been exceeded six years early and you have probably already heard the astounding news that whisky exports have increased 50% and food exports have rocketed 63% since 2007.
And I don’t want to rub it in but it’s worth noting that growth of food exports from our country have outperformed that of England, Northern Ireland and Ireland.
But it is not just our neighbours we are outperforming.
What you might not be aware of is that in this highly competitive global industry, our growth rate in food exports has been greater than many of our key competitors including New Zealand, Norway, Canada and Australia.
And last year saw the food and drink sector attracting a similar amount of inward investment as renewables, oil and gas and the financial and business services. Indeed, just recently two major international companies have announced significant investment in our drinks industry and our fisheries.
The last few years – challenges and growth
So, it has been a fantastic year for Scotland’s Food & Drink.
And as food and drink minister, I have been proud to represent the sector for over five years at home and abroad.
At home, together, we have got to this stage through strong and powerful grassroots action – from farmers markets to local food networks, from farm shops to Michelin stars – making local food a real and important part of many people’s lives.
There is a huge amount of opportunity out there.
From Dufftown to Dubai, I have had the great privilege of seeing this growth first hand.
Together, we have paired industry ambition with public service support through Scotland Food & Drink’s industry action plan and its stretching targets to grow the industry.
One great example is the export agents placed in China and Germany which are part public funded and part industry funded and will help greatly enhance the services offered in those countries.
And together, with our national food & drink policy Recipe for Success, we have supported the growth of our food revolution and recently more than doubled resources to make it a reality – literally putting our cash where our mouth is!.
But there is a lot still to do, and I am hungry to do more.
This summer, I have been travelling the country visiting food companies and visiting with the Scottish Cabinet places like Orkney and Galloway, seeing many of the issues at first hand.
And yes, we cannot allow the stats and headlines mask the very real challenges facing many food businesses.
I know many companies are feeling it tough out there. Rising input costs and tight margins provide a difficult trading environment for many firms.
And this against a backdrop where the recession continues to bite consumers who have less money to spend.
We just have to look at the situation at Hall’s of Broxburn to know that some people are not finding it easy.
I know that more people are finding it hard to put food on their own plate. Indeed, only yesterday I read that Citizens Advice Scotland reported a doubling in the number of Scots asking for help in feeding themselves and their families.
While the UK Government’s economic policy, welfare reforms and benefits systems, bear the blunt of the responsibility, we cannot be complacent and must assure that all in Scotland have access to affordable healthy food.
That is one of the reasons we part fund the Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme which in recent years has focussed on low income areas and I’m told have already surpassed their 2013 target of over 1100 convenience stores offering fruit and vegetables for sale in all our 32 local authorities.
And food prices are a global issue of course, and I find reprehensible the recent headline generated by the multi-national commodity trading company, Glencore, seeking to profit from the volatility in food prices, showing that money is being made from people’s misery.
Let me be clear – it is not acceptable to profit from food poverty – it needs tackled not exploited.
Whether globally or closer to home, I know that sometimes, supply chains don’t work for every part of that chain.
Farmers’ protests about the price of milk over the summer captured the public’s imagination – and I do wonder whether we have the balance of power right in supply chain relationships - something that deserves more debate.
However, I was especially pleased to see yesterday that farming unions, including the National Farmers Union of Scotland, had managed to thrash out new terms of contract with dairy processors.
I hope this leads to a better set of relationships and growth in what should be a successful and international sector.
The local food and global opportunities play right into our hands in Scotland.
We have what people want: clear water, green hills and a reputation for good produce, from Scotch Beef to Scotch Whisky, to Seafood, to artisan cheese to craft beer.
Right now, if you want the best, you have to source from Scotland! Or indeed, if you are the best, you should source from Scotland!
I was very privileged to see this when I visited the Athletes village at the Olympics in London.
In between having my photo taken with Scottish tablet eating Russian basketball players who were two feet taller than me, and also with my arm around Zara Philips, I could see and hear at first hand the wealth of praise received from all of the outstanding athletes who sampled our produce!
I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the companies who provided the produce for the athletes and also our athletes who competed and won medals.
I’d also like to extend my thanks to the staff of Scotland Food and Drink and Scottish Enterprise who did a fabulous job of negotiating to be one of the few countries represented in the athletes village and setting everything in motion.
All over the world, and most recently at the Olympic Village, I have seen first hand that we have a reputation second to none. And the next two years are going to be absolutely critical in taking advantage of the opportunities this fantastic reputation gives us.
Because the Olympics was just the beginning - 2014 is the target we are all aiming for. Let me talk a little about this fantastic opportunity.
In 2014 we will host the best Commonwealth Games ever! We will host the best Ryder Cup ever! And we will surpass the success of our last Homecoming.
I’m told the Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi sports event Scotland has ever hosted with 71 countries and around 6,500 athletes and officials participating, together with an anticipated global TV audience of up to 1 billion people.
Over the next 9 months the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee responsible for delivering the Games expect to procure catering services contracts worth up to £8 million.
It’s estimated that more than 2 million meals will be made, and just to give you some examples of the scale of food which will be procured - figures such as 10,000 loaves of bread and 6 tonnes of eggs have been quoted.
One million tickets are expected to be sold for the Games to spectators who - when they are finished watching the Games – will dine in our hotels and restaurants which is where the Scottish Food Champions scheme, which I announced in May, will play a fundamental role.
These visitors will know to look for hotels and restaurants which are Scottish Food Champions because these businesses will offer them the best of Scottish produce and can tell them the details of the provenance of their offerings.
This makes business sense to the tourism venues as Scottish Enterprise’s Experiencing Scotland project has proven. Fifty high profile tourism companies and events have so far benefited from this project. Those companies have already reported an average 10% increase in their food and drink turnover.
And the Commonwealth Games are just part of the opportunity. Even more visitors to our shore will be drawn by the 2014 Homecoming.
The last one in 2009 was a great success influencing more than 95,000 visitors to travel to Scotland and generating £53.7 million in additional tourism revenue.
For Homecoming 2014 the one year long co-ordinated programme of events being planned will re-enforce Scotland’s position on the international stage as a dynamic and creative nation.
We intend to generate pride in the people of Scotland and welcome visitors around the world in celebration of Scotland’s greatest assets. Food and Drink will be one of the 5 themes of the Homecoming year.
And if the Commonwealth Games and Homecoming is not enough, we also have one of the world’s largest sporting events, in the form of the Ryder Cup. Each day 45,000 spectators from across the world are expected to attend.
From this event alone our economy is expected to benefit by up to £100 million.
With the eyes of the World on Scotland during these events, I see it as our duty to ensure the wonder and quality of our produce is as talked about as the events themselves. I want our visitors to go home and tell their friends and family that Scotland is a Land of Food and Drink.
Food and Drink Action Plan and funding announcement
That is why, when I was at the Olympics last month, I announced an action plan for food and drink in 2014 to help us grasp these opportunities.
The action plan will build on the excellent work done since the Year of Food and Drink in 2010. It will see the public sector working collaboratively with industry. It will set out a clear plan to take advantage of the opportunities I have just outlined.
For I am determined that we will make a great success of 2014.
I am determined that we can seize the local and global opportunities that are there for us. I am absolutely determined that we can continue our food revolution in Scotland.
That is why today, I am delighted to announce that I will be committing £1 million pounds to help deliver our 2014 action plan.
Rest assured the Scottish Government’s commitment is there, your industry organisation, Scotland Food & Drink is leading the way, and the 1 million pounds will contribute towards making 2014 an unforgettable year for Food and Drink.
So let me conclude by saying - don’t underestimate the opportunities that 2014 will provide.
The eyes of the world will be on us, not only because of the debate on our constitutional future, a debate that alone can lead to a huge boost for all things Scottish across the globe, but as a Nation that can deliver to an international audience.
Food and Drink is a key part of this. The 1 million pounds funding I have announced today will help ensure this, but it also needs each and every one of you to deliver our ambition to generate even more success for your industry.
As I have said many a time, Scotland is a Land of Food and Drink. It offers opportunities for economic growth, for the wellbeing of our country and for adding to our reputation as a Nation.
We must take advantage of that. And I am confident we will.