Scotland’s biggest food and drink showcase is set to be launched by the organisers of the Royal Highland Show.
They are hoping to attract about 10,000 people to the three-day event, to be held at the vast Highland Hall at the showground near Edinburgh Airport annually from September 2014.
Eat, Drink, Discover Scotland will have a focus on rural parts of Scotland, although it will be open to everything from one-person businesses to supermarket giants.
The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) is predicting the event – which will feature masterclasses from chefs and industry experts – will generate about £1 million for the economy in its first year. The first day of the “unashamedly Scottish” showcase will be a trade-only fair aimed at generating new business for producers with industry buyers, while the Saturday and Sunday will be open to the public.
The show – to be staged from 12-14 September next year – aims to raise the profile of new companies and products, showcasing producers from different parts of the country, and promoting the “natural larder of Scotland”.
Allan Murray, chairman of RHASS, said: “The event is part of the Society’s broader strategy to support rural Scotland. Building on the success of the Royal Highland Show’s food hall, this national event, with a strong regional focus, will provide a compelling case for celebrating Scotland’s food culture.”
Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This unique event will allow producers from all over Scotland to showcase the superb food and drink their area is famous for and demonstrate the array of Scottish delicacies.”
While the Royal Highland Show turns the spotlight on one area each year in its food hall, the new event is set to give each corner of Scotland the chance to showcase its best produce.
It is hoped to attract about 150 different traders, 50 more than fit into the Royal Highland Show’s food hall.
Rapeseed oil producer Gregor Mackintosh, who founded his Aberdeenshire company Mackintosh of Glendaveny four years ago, clinched a deal to sell his produce in more than 60 stores after attending the food hall at the Highland Show last year.
He said: “While there are a number of small food events throughout Scotland, nothing compares with the Highland Show for attracting leading supermarket buyers.
“If RHASS can leverage these relationships for this new event I am confident it will provide another opportunity to showcase the incredible standard of food and drink available in Scotland, especially with the main market focus on local sourcing.”
Sarah Mackie, head of local sourcing for Tesco, said: “Scotland has a wide variety of quality food and drink producers, and events such as this provide a fantastic opportunity for consumers to see, taste, then buy the tremendous variety of food and drink that is produced in Scotland. We understand the importance of regionality, which ensures that we have the right range for customers in their local store.”