Food and drink has been Scotland’s best performing sector in recent years, with record export figures released last weekend and sales at home increasing rapidly too.
The sector is worth £14.4 billion annually, 119,000 people are working directly in the industry and food manufacturing in Scotland is growing at twice the rate of the UK average for the sector.
‘Ambition 2030’, launched yesterday (Thursday), establishes a vision to cement food and drink as Scotland’s most valuable industry, with the opportunity to more than double turnover in the sector to reach £30 billion by 2030.
The strategy has been developed by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, an industry-led partnership of the main organisations in the farming, fishing, food and drink sector, alongside The Scottish Government and its key agencies.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership in Glasgow to launch the strategy.
She said: “Scotland’s food and drink sector has enjoyed phenomenal success over the past ten years with unprecedented growth in turnover and exports, including food exports alone doubling to £1.5 billion.
“Our nation is blessed with all the ingredients we need to achieve greater success. We have a fantastic natural larder, the skills and expertise, and the complementary strengths in tourism, innovation and research.
“Yet the risk of leaving the EU and the single market means these are uncertain times, while revoking the free movement of people could have a profound impact on our food and drink industry.
“That is why we are doing our utmost to support the industry - working in partnership with Scotland Food and Drink, the industry bodies, and our producers - and this new £10 million investment will support the industry realise its ambition to double its value by 2030.”
The industry’s focus will be on building Scotland’s national brand as a Land of Food and Drink and driving sales within Scotland, across the rest of the UK and globally.
To unlock the £30 billion potential of the industry, the strategy focuses on three areas:
People and Skills: raising attractiveness of the industry as a career destination and investing in the existing workforce; Supply Chain: ensuring farmers, fishermen, manufacturers and buyers work in closer partnership, to ensure greater profitability is shared across the industry and Innovation: embracing a new culture of developing new products and processes to drive growth.
In addition, the industry has made a renewed commitment to responsible growth, committing to deliver broader benefits to the country beyond just sales growth. This includes an offer of a new partnership with Government and its agencies to drive improvements in Scotland’s health and wellbeing and to commit again to embracing world-leading standards of environmental sustainability.
The 2030 strategy identifies collaboration as the most important ingredient in the sector’s success to date with plans to deepen joint-working between the industry, government and its agencies in the coming years, as well as to make support easier to access for businesses.
James Withers, Scotland Food & Drink chief executive, said: “Ten years ago, when the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership was formed, our sector was relatively static. It is now one of the country’s best performing industries and it’s our fastest growing export sector. However, today sets out a new vision to build further on that.
“As an industry, we have identified an opportunity to more than double the size of our sector to £30 billion by 2030, making it Scotland’s most valuable industry.
“A huge amount of work is required to unlock that potential and it will not come easily. There is uncertainty ahead, with Brexit in the forefront of everybody’s mind. Whilst big political upheavals are out of the industry’s control, we can control how we develop the Scottish brand, the markets we want to sell to and the investments we make in improving skills, innovation and supply chains.
“Food and drink is now a national success story for Scotland, yet there are areas requiring more work. Too few view our industry as a top career choice, many farmers feel detached from the success story and we can do more to support improvements in Scotland’s health.
“The focus we now place on all of that means we approach the coming years with real optimism. It will take a huge amount of dedication from industry, government and its agencies, but working collaboratively, there is every reason we can make Scotland the best place in the world to run a food and drink business.
“Whether you are on a tractor or fishing boat, on the factory floor or around the boardroom table, I believe this is the industry to be in over the next few years. There will be challenges ahead, there always are, however the clear vision and strategy we are setting out today creates a foundation for profitable, responsible growth in the coming years.”
Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive, said: “Scottish food and drink is of significant importance to the country’s economic and export performance, with Scotch Whisky playing a leading role in growing the industry further.
“The new strategy – Ambition 30 – will ensure that the whole sector will become even more substantial in years to come. And we’re confident Scotch Whisky – which accounts for around three quarters of Scottish food and drink exports – will remain the biggest contributor to the sector. We are committed to helping others grow their businesses, for example through our Export Collaboration Charter with Scotland Food and Drink. Our award-winning Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy can also provide a blueprint in helping the entire sector achieve its sustainability aims.”
Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) said the college is committed to helping the food sector in Scotland achieve its strategy for 2030.
he said: “Our recognised expertise along the food supply chain and the established relationships with primary producers, processors and SMEs can support the kind of innovation, efficiency and business growth needed to bring new ideas to the market. This also helps our leading role in attracting, training and educating the enthusiastic and industry-ready future workforce so critical for Ambition 2030.
“SRUC consultants are active in initiatives like “Connect Local”, the Scottish Government’s food and drink advisory service while our researchers are supporting Agritech and other public private partnerships that can help farmers connect more closely with the food industry and consumers.”
Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland president, added: “The ambition launched aims to continue the growth of Scotland’s food and drink industry and bridge the gap between our food producers, our farmers and crofters, and the rest of the supply chain so that all enjoy the success of Scotland’s most successful industry.”