Scotland is renowned for producing exceptional food and drink, with items including Scotch whisky and salmon famous for their quality all around the world.
Alex Black assesses its ambitious plans for future growth...
Exports of food and drink from Scotland were worth £5.8 billion last year and made up 18.4 per cent of total Scottish goods exports.
Scotch whisky has been the standout performer for Scotland, with export values reaching a record £4.7 billion in 2018. The US was the first billion pound export market for the industry, its single biggest market.
Scotland Food and Drink, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scottish Development International, published the industry’s first export plan in 2014 as it looked to build on its growing export opportunity.
The plan included paving the way for Scottish producers to create new growth and saw a global team of trade specialists, dedicated to food and drink, embedded in key markets.
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, the body tasked with leading the industry, is clear on the benefits the plan has delivered to date.
Mr Withers said: “The development of a global team of trade specialists in cities around the world has been a game-changing investment for Scotland.
“Food and drink is the only sector in Scotland to have this resource, and the team of specialists in 10 markets has to date supported 340 individual Scottish companies, generating an increase in export sales of £67 million since 2014.
“We now have more international customers than ever before wanting to do business with Scottish food and drink producers. As a result, food and drink is now Scotland’s number one exporting
He added the ambition was to double the size of the industry to £30bn by 2030 and the next export plan would be ‘crucial’ to unlocking its full potential.
“This is an exciting time for the sector; there are still huge opportunities in front of us,” Mr Withers said.
“From Tokyo to Toronto, there is growing demand for world-class products with a strong provenance story and Scotland can compete with anywhere in the world on that front.”
For meat, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) highlighted the Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb protected geographical indication brands, which were ‘underpinned by world-leading levels of traceability, assurance and welfare standards’.
Tom Gibson, head of market development at QMS, said: “These qualities are sought after throughout the world, making export markets extremely important to the Scottish red meat industry. In 2017/2018, Scottish meat exports totalled more than £65m.”
Scotland exports 6 per cent of its beef production, with the EU its primary market, making up 97.5 per cent of volume. For sheepmeat, exports totalled about £30m in 2017/2018, with the EU accounting for 97 per cent of that.
He added QMS was providing advice on which countries companies could export to and providing assistance with documentation.
Mr Gibson added: “The Japanese market recently opened for beef and lamb, and India is now accepting imports of lamb.
“Trade delegations will be visiting to introduce Scottish produce to local importers in the coming months and new trade opportunities will be the main item on the agenda.”