FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched a distinctive new national stamp of quality aimed at boosting the country’s struggling milk industry on the opening day of the Royal Highland Show yesterday.
The green tartan Scottish Dairy logo will appear alongside traditional trademarks on products such as butter and cheese.
Around 150 Scottish farmers have already signed up to the new national brand, which guarantees a product is made in Scotland from 100 per cent Scottish milk.
The label will appear on nearly 40 products, with more expected as the initiative unfolds.
The move is a key part of Scottish Government plans to support dairy farmers, who have been hit by falling milk prices.
It has been developed by the recently established Scottish Dairy Growth Board as a way of signposting Scottish produce both at home and overseas.
Visitors to the show joined Ms Sturgeon and rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead to taste the first samples of the branded goods, which come in three ranges – heritage, artisan and organic.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Scottish food and drink exports are booming – valued at more than £5.1 billion last year.
“Scotch beef, salmon and shellfish are recognised the world over for their excellence and Scottish provenance. People recognise the Scottish brand. They associate the country with quality food and drink, and clearly other Scottish sectors, such as dairy, can benefit from that too.
“I want to put the spotlight firmly on our fantastic produce for retailers in Scotland and buyers from around the globe.
“This new brand will help consumers support Scottish producers and help in marketing our excellent produce abroad.”
She said the government was committed to supporting Scotland’s 900 milk producers, who account for 15 per cent of Scotland’s total farming productivity and generate more than £400 million a year.
She added: “The dairy sector has had a difficult time and I want to assure farmers that we are doing everything we can to help them through the recent reductions in milk prices, and I hope our newly-established Scottish Dairy Brand will play a part in that.”
Mr Lochhead said there is an appetite for authentic Scottish goods amongst consumers in many potential markets.
He said: “It is clear from other sectors just how powerful a Scottish brand can be. Evidence suggests that the Scotch Beef brand adds around £20 million annually at the farm gate, and almost £40m in retail across the UK, which is a premium of around 12 per cent – I am therefore hopeful and optimistic that we can see a similar premium for our dairy industry.”
Scotland’s food and drink sector has the strongest growth in Scotland’s economy – between 2008 and 2012, manufacturing turnover growth was 20.8 per cent, with the UK as a whole growing by just 8.6 per cent in the same period.
Paul Grant, who heads the Scottish Dairy Growth Board, said: “I am becoming more and more excited about the potential opportunities as this project unfolds.
“We have now identified great brands, products with potential, and also secured two leading UK Dairy consolidators to take products to market.
“This should have a significant impact on the success of the Scottish Dairy Brand.”
NFUS milk committee chairman Graeme Kilpatrick said: “This concerted effort to build exports for Scottish cheese and butter builds on the fantastic provenance of Scotland.
“Like whisky or beef, the products selected for the brand have a strong heritage and a powerful story to tell the rest of the world about the quality of our dairy produce and the ability of our dairy farmers.
“The number of authentic, artisan and organic products selected for the brand is testament to our fantastic range of premium dairy produce.
“With that platform, there is a tremendous opportunity to ensure our cheese and butter taps into the growing reputation for Scottish food and drink worldwide.”