Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead used a debate in the Scottish Parliament to highlight the ongoing plight of many farmers and revealed he had written to Costa, Starbucks and other major coffee retailers urging them to switch their sourcing policy and commit to using Scottish milk and other produce.
The Cabinet Secretary also updated MSPs on work being done by the Scottish Government to support producers as Scottish agriculture copes with volatile global markets and recent poor weather conditions.
He said: “We must all of us – governments, consumers, and food companies – do what we can to support our farmers and crofters in their hour of need.
“Retailers and the food service sector account for £200 billion of sales in the UK. In the face of very poor weather and low lamb and milk prices, these companies can clearly make a massive difference and must take their responsibilities seriously.”
Mr Lochhead said one in three Scots visited a coffee shop at least once a week, spending an average of £80,000 a day.
He added: “Many will be shocked to learn the milk is often not Scottish, especially at a time when dairy farmers are struggling.”
Mr Lochhead added the Scottish Government was ‘pulling out all the stops’ to be able to start making Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payments by the end of December.
NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie said the farming industry was being undermined by the current price volatility and needed strong leadership from government as well as moves from retailers and food service companies.
The union has been meeting with the large retailers to press the need for better promotion of Scottish and British produce.
Mr Bowie added: “Farmers are driving change in their businesses, seeking improvements all the time but with the market stacked against them there must be changes to get the industry to where it needs to be.
“There is a genuine need to put in place initiatives which will deliver a shift from the status quo, which is neither efficient, reasonable nor future proof.”
NFUS objectives to help Scottish farmers
Encourage increasing collaboration between farmers and the entire supply chain
Scottish Government to deliver food security support payments in time for the first two weeks of December, provide clarity on complicated greening measures, and press ahead with its Fairer Framework initiative.
Work with government and others to see more Scottish food sold in the UK
Open up new overseas markets.