First Minister announces steps to help increase sales of Scottish food

A study to trace the origin of dairy products on shelves in Scotland’s supermarkets will improve transparency and help to identify opportunities to increase sales of Scottish products.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with representatives from the agricultural industry this morning to hear first-hand about the challenges they currently face and what actions would most help. A key issue was how to increase Scottish sourcing at home and abroad.

Ms Sturgeon and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead discussed a range of other issues facing the industry while at South Slipperfield Farm in West Linton.

The study will be carried out by Scotland Food & Drink and will establish where retailers are sourcing products such as butter and cheese.

The results will be used as a basis for working together to achieve a step change, bring more Scottish products to market and improve access for shoppers to Scottish dairy products.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

Scotland has world class products and world class producers, and we want to see a situation where they are appearing in cafes, canteens and supermarkets throughout Scotland and also across the globe.

“We know there is a strong appetite from consumers in Scotland to have access to home-grown goods and support our farmers and producers. Supermarkets, retailers and the foodservice sector are an important part of that journey from farm to fork, but we need to establish if we can all do more to drive up sales and accessibility.

“To do this, we need to have information on where retailers are sourcing their products and then identify how we can work with them and others to ensure more of their stock is Scottish. It’s also about tempting buyers to look upon Scotland for their products.

“We will be hosting showcasing the very best of Scotland’s food and drink at an event at Gleneagles in October, where UK and international buyers – from retail, catering and wider food service – will sample our iconic products and encouraged to seize upon a golden opportunity to buy Scottish.

“A similar event last year attracted more than buyers and generated £20 million in business – the appetite is there; we need to fuel it.”

Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink James Withers said:

“The new umbrella brand for Scottish dairy is about to take our world class products to new customers overseas. But we know there is more potential in our home market too. In a survey we did last year, over 90% of shoppers said it was important to them to be able to buy Scottish dairy products.

“This new study will identify opportunities to build deeper relationships between retailers and Scottish suppliers and help shoppers in this country find the quality Scottish dairy products they want.

“The initiatives we’ve delivered in partnership with Scottish retailers and caterers over the last few years has driven over £50 million in new sales for producers. This is a platform to build on that momentum.”

The First Minister and Mr Lochhead had a roundtable discussion with stakeholders from the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and representatives from the sheep, dairy, beef and arable sectors.

A number of issues were raised and the Scottish Government’s commitment to helping was reiterated.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“There is no denying the importance of the agricultural sector to Scotland and the Scottish Government holds the industry in the highest regard.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the sector during these volatile times through initiatives including the Scottish Dairy Brand, a £416,000 grant for the Campbeltown Creamery, a £50,000 grant to RSABI, which will go towards farmers and those working on the land by providing assistance to those who find themselves facing personal difficulties, and our recently launched discussion document on the Future of Scottish Agriculture to encourage debate and conversation on the issues currently affecting the sector.

“Across different sectors of livestock and arable farming, producers find themselves facing difficult situations at present. We will continue to actively encourage investment in the new capacity, measures to spread farming best practice, promote consumption and demand, encourage transparency in the market and explore EU support arrangements.”

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