‘Golden era’ for Scotland’s food and drink sector with £30bn target on course

James Withers, chief executive of trade association Scotland Food & Drink.
James Withers, chief executive of trade association Scotland Food & Drink.
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Industry bosses are confident that Scotland remains on track to more than double the annual value of its food and drink sector to £30 billion in just over a decade, despite potential Brexit roadblocks.

James Withers, chief executive of trade association Scotland Food & Drink, told Scotland on Sunday that the latest government statistics have reinforced his belief that the industry will achieve its 2030 ambition.

His comments come in the wake of figures that revealed turnover in the Scottish food and drink sector hit a record high of £14.8bn in 2017, the latest year for which figures are available.

This represents a rise of 6 per cent from 2016, an increase in line with the desired growth trajectory of 5 to 6 per cent per year to meet the stretch target.

Withers said: “These results emphasise the sense that we’re in a golden era for Scottish food and drink.

“It’s been an unusual year, and in some ways a worrying one, with Brexit dominating everything, so this has reinstalled the belief and the ambition that we’re doing the right things and we’ve got the right opportunities.”

A breakdown of the data shows that agriculture enjoyed the strongest growth surge, worth 14 per cent more to the Scottish economy than in 2016, although food products remained the biggest contributor, accounting for £6.3bn of overall revenues.

Withers added: “The only concern there’s been around the industry is the uncertainty caused by Brexit. In the coming years there will be inevitable ups and downs and things outwith our control, like Brexit, but ultimately all the trends are moving in Scotland’s favour.”