The world is becoming increasingly cramped. By 2050, it is expected the population will number more than 9 billion.
As a result, demand for food will double, presenting the food and drink industry with a unique challenge.
In innovation, through new products and processes to transform our food and dietary habits, we not only have the capability to address these challenges but also to create economic growth, jobs and investment.
With a wide range of natural products and a global reputation for global provenance, Scotland’s food and drink companies already lead the charge in creating more innovative, creative solutions to reduce the cost and increase the sustainability of the food we eat.
In Bank of Scotland’s latest food and drink report, Producing Potential, 74 per cent of the companies surveyed said they plan to turn to innovation and new product development to achieve new growth. More than half said they plan to invest in new infrastructure to support the development of new product lines – evidence that the pioneering spirit of Scottish entrepreneurship continues right across the sector.
Musselburgh-based Queen Margaret University is just one of our indigenous institutions at the forefront of this new horizon for Scotland’s food and drink sector. Through its “frontier foods” research programme, it has already established an international reputation for innovation in identifying new sustainable ingredients for food production. Working with Cuddybridge, a small, Scottish, hand-pressed apple juice producer, for example, it has utilised Sea Buckthorn, a bush often regarded as a weed, to develop a rich, anti-oxidant and vitamin-packed juice.
Not only does the new product use an underutilised ingredient, it does so with a significant opportunity to capitalise on a health food market, currently worth more than £300 million.
Just one example of the innovation across Scotland. With the right support, there is a huge opportunity to help the country continue on its path to becoming a significant international player in the future of the global food and drink market.
• Graham Blair is SME Area Director, Scotland, for Bank of Scotland, sponsors of the Scottish Food & Drink conference in Edinburgh on 9 September. www.scotsmanconferences.com