Food and drink: Future-proofing the sector

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Access to labour and markets will be among the key issues discussed at the seventh Scotsman Food and Drink Conference as it explore ways that the £15 billion industry can continue to thrive after Brexit.

Scotland’s leading food and drink experts will also address concerns regarding the ability of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to trade beyond Europe.

Between 150 and 200 delegates are expected to attend the day-long event entitled Beyond Brexit: Future-proofing Food and Drink in Scotland, at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC).

The event will bring together key areas of Scotland’s food and drink sector, including premium producers of meat, fish and whisky, and innovative SMEs.

It will celebrate the nation’s innovation, collaboration, high quality and strong brand.

Chaired by its regular host Stephen Jardine, the event will be held for the first time at the EICC.

The morning session, Tapping into the Big Trends, will include crucial market insights from Andrew Niven of Scotland Food & Drink and Roz Cuschieri of Emily Crisps, with a focus on looking beyond Brexit at how Scotland’s food and drink brand can remain strong across the world.

Latest figures from the Scottish Government show that overseas exports were worth approximately £6bn last year, an increase of nearly £570 million on 2016.

That comes as positive news for the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s Ambition 2030 strategy, which aims to double the value of the industry in the next 12 years.

The second session of the day, entitled Future-proofing Food and Drink: Quality, Collaboration, Innovation, will involve a panel discussion with representatives from award-winning businesses who will explain how to deliver customer satisfaction.

It will include Adam Hunter, commercial manager of Scottish gin, vodka and whisky distiller Arbikie, which won the title of best Scottish spirit at last year’s Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.

He will be joined by Claire 
Pollock, partner at Ardross Farm Shop, which received the 2017 award for best use of Scottish produce.

Alongside other panellists, they will explain how they attracted customers as well as how to understand the marketplace, develop good-quality products and keep customers happy.

Three pillars of Scotland’s food and drink industry will be represented. Karen Betts of the Scotch Whisky Association, Jim McLaren of Quality Meat Scotland and Julie Hesketh-Laird of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, will discuss the challenges of Brexit and the prospect of tariffs on their respective industries.

The conference will be held ahead of the second Scotsman Food and Drink Awards at the same venue that evening.

This article appeared in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here.