Call for Scots food and drink producers to join new venture to support sector

More than 120 Scottish food and drink businesses from sectors as diverse as brewers, dairies, seafood, and condiments have joined the supportlocal.scot directory ahead of its launch today – and is calling for more to sign up.

Callum and Jill Clark of Connage Highland Dairy. Picture: Paul Watt Photography.
Callum and Jill Clark of Connage Highland Dairy. Picture: Paul Watt Photography.

The platform has been created by the industry body Scotland Food & Drink, and aims to connect consumers directly with food and drink businesses, including many of those who have had to refocus offerings due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions.

Businesses to have signed up include Connage Highland Dairy near Inverness, Edinburgh restaurant Fhior, and it is hoped that the supportlocal.scot platform will allow consumers to browse Scottish food and drink suppliers and search by product type and location.

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The online resource aims to increase its reach across Scotland and sectors, calling for suppliers of all sizes to sign up to the service. Scotland Food & Drink said that a month since the lockdown came into effect, many businesses that previously supplied the foodservice and hospitality sector have pivoted to consumer-facing e-commerce to continue trading. At the same time, consumers have increasingly turned their attention to buying online and there is a renewed interest in supporting local businesses.

Those who continue to shop with us are our lifeline, the dairy firm says. Picture: Paul Watt Photography.

Lucy Husband, UK market development director at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “While more and more of us are shopping for food and drink online, the appetite for high-quality, local products remains strong. In fact, our research shows that 70 per cent of Scottish consumers believe it’s important to have locally sourced produce available, and 49 per cent of Scottish shoppers also claim they would be willing to pay more for Scottish produce.

“We’re proud to launch supportlocal.scot to meet that demand and provide a useful platform for businesses to reach new consumers.”

Support

Jill Clark, owner of Connage Highland Dairy, said: “Things have been tough but we have been so touched by the support we have received from customers old and new, both locally and nationwide. There have been big changes at Connage – more local deliveries, more products online, plans for a cheese vending machine put into action and very sadly some of our team furloughed – but I think this is teaching us all about patience and the importance of connection.

“Small businesses can be a lifeline for many, especially in rural areas, and in turn those who continue to shop with us are our lifeline. The relationship serves to reduce loneliness and keep the local economy going. I am optimistic that this surge in support for local shopping will continue beyond current circumstances and I am certainly still enormously proud to be part of Scotland’s resilient food and drink industry.”

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Scott Smith, chef and co-owner of Fhior, is supporting the restaurant’s food and drink suppliers through his Root to Market initiative. He said: “The landscape of the hospitality industry has changed so dramatically over the past weeks. However the need for food hasn’t, and the issue of how to get that to people has been a huge challenge that thankfully, so many independent businesses have taken up.

“It is so important that we continue to create new routes for our small, local producers to get their food to the public in the safest way possible. It has been amazing to see such a wave of people getting behind their local economies, supporting our country’s producers and protecting local jobs. In the midst of huge uncertainty and the devastation caused by this crisis, we are seeing a renewed sense of community and care for each other.”

Scotland Food & Drink is working towards Ambition 2030, which aims to double the size of the food and drink industry in Scotland to £30 billion in turnover by 2030. The organisation notes that food and drink is one of the largest industry sectors in Scotland, employing 119,000 people, and the retail value of Scottish food and drink brands in Scotland is around £590 million, up 27 per cent in the last ten years.

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