The poll was conducted at Scotland Food & Drink’s Industry Conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday of this week, where more than 350 delegates from across the sector met to discuss local and global growth opportunities, with “leading lights” in terms of producers mixing with international buyers and household names.
The organisation, which is based on the outskirts of Edinburgh, said high-profile brands including John Gilmour’s Butchers and The Gin Bothy took to the stage to discuss their business journeys, building resilience, market opportunities and sustainability approaches. Guests at the event, which was sponsored by Drac Logistics and CMS, also heard from international speakers including Dubai’s Foodsource, and retail giants Marks & Spencer and Alibaba, who outlined their view of the market, consumer trends, and what they’re looking for when partnering with Scottish suppliers.
The survey found that just under three-quarters of attendees felt that consumer demand for local produce has increased over the last year, more than half believed their biggest growth opportunity was within the wider UK, and a quarter were looking to international markets for growth.
The trade body’s boss Iain Baxter – a member of both the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Trade Board and the UK Government’s Food and Drink Export Council – said: “It was a pleasure to welcome businesses from across the country to our first industry conference post-Covid, and my first as CEO at Scotland Food & Drink.
“The poll results highlight the ambition that our businesses have, and their strategies to seize growth opportunities. It’s heartening to see such positivity among our membership and wider industry, particularly in the context of myriad challenges facing the sector.
“The positive attitude expressed today reflects the direction of our coming industry strategy. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll set out the strategic direction to ensure that our sector is sustainable, resilient and growing.”
Mr Baxter, whose co-hosts included Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder of gluten-free bread brand Genius, said: “Events like this give businesses the tools to grow, both locally and globally, and learn from each other as we set out on our joint mission to grow the opportunities for our sector and champion Scotland as a land of food and drink. It is such a rewarding time to be part of this industry.”
The organisation earlier this month said that according to the latest figures released by HMRC, Scottish food and drink products reached a record export value of £8bn in 2022, up by nearly a third year on year, and 8.1 per cent above the 2019 pre-Covid peak. The jump was attributed to strong growth particularly in whisky, but also in other categories such as cereals.
Meanwhile, recent announcements from Scottish food and drink firms include Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner Artisanal Spirits Company saying it is on track to meet its 2024 sales target of £30 million after toasting double-digit revenue and membership growth in 2022, and James Watt, co-founder of maverick Ellon-based beer maker BrewDog, putting up £5m of his own money in a bid to find the next billion-dollar company.