2014 Commonwealth Games are chance to improve image of Scotland’s food
SCOTLAND will use the 2014 Commonwealth Games to change international perceptions about its poor diet and love of fried food, it has been claimed.
Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the event would provide a showcase for the country’s food and drink industry, helping dispel “once and for all” Scotland’s unhealthy image.
However, he refused to be drawn on whether fast-food firms would be allowed to sponsor the Games, after criticism surrounded the role of companies such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola at the Olympics.
Mr Lochhead was speaking yesterday as part of a conference hosted by The Scotsman at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, which brought together major players from the country’s food and drink industry.
Announcing a £1 million investment as part of the country’s Food and Drink 2014 Action Plan, he said producers needed to be ready to take advantage of the Games, as well as the Ryder Cup, which will be held at Gleneagles the same year, and the Year of Homecoming.
He said: “In the past, Scotland has not had the best image for the food we eat. Clearly, the Commonwealth Games offers an unprecedented platform to once and for all change the world’s view of food and drink from our country.
“These are big Games, requiring big budgets. Clearly, a lot of work is going on over sponsors. We have to use this opportunity to promote the right agenda, and that will be at the forefront of our minds.”
The money announced yesterday will be used to help Scottish food and drink firms exploit business opportunities resulting from the events in 2014.
Work is already under way to learn lessons from how Scotland’s food industry was marketed during the Olympics.
Mr Lochhead added: “Here in Scotland, we produce some of the world’s finest produce, and 2014 will offer us incredible opportunities to showcase our food and drink to the world, broaden the market for our goods overseas and boost our already booming export market.”
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, which receives funding from the Scottish Government to support producers, said: “We have an extraordinary opportunity in 2014 to create a lasting legacy for our food and drink sector.
“We want to set a new benchmark for local food and drink provision at major events and we’re working with the organising groups of the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming on that vision.
“Our showcasing of Scottish food and drink at the Olympics last month was an insight into what we can achieve. However, the hard work for 2014 starts now. With less than 700 days until the opening ceremony in Glasgow, we are developing a programme of work with food and drink businesses of all sizes so they can seize the opportunities over the next two years. Scotland is a land of food and drink and this is a once in a generation opportunity to showcase that.”
During the London Games, organisers were criticised for associating themselves with brands including McDonald’s, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and Heineken.
Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, who is based at the Royal Free Hospital in London, said it was “obscene” that the firms were being allowed to sponsor the event while the NHS struggles to deal with an obesity epidemic.
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