Good Food Nation is about more than something nice to eat – David Thomson

David Thomson, CEO, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland
David Thomson, CEO, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland
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The Scottish Government has committed to bring forward legislation in this parliamentary term to help ­Scotland become a Good Food Nation. But what is a Good Food Nation? The Scottish Government’s vision is that by 2025 “people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day”.

We are supportive of this aim – it is vital to ensure the Scottish food and drink industry continues to be a world leader in providing high ­quality, sustainable food.

At our fringe event at the SNP autumn conference, we had the chance to discuss how the food and drink industry could work in ­partnership with the Scottish ­Government to achieve this. This event was held in collaboration between FDF Scotland and the National Farmers Union of ­Scotland. We were delighted to have Mairi Gougeon MSP – the Scottish Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment – speaking at the event and food writer Cate Devine chairing the session.

Everyone has a different view of what a Good Food Nation is. This meant that discussions on the day were very varied. Themes included the right for everyone to have access to food, the importance of food ­education and the new school food regulations. Another key topic we discussed was the importance of ensuring that everyone from across Scotland has a good understanding of the Scottish food and drink ­industry. This includes the variety of high quality food available and the many important careers that are involved from farm to fork. We need the food and drink industry to ­continue to thrive and for that to happen we need more people to want to work in the industry.

We are proud to deliver our skills initiative – A Future in Food – funded by the Scottish Government, through Scotland Food & Drink. Through this initiative we make educators, ­students, careers influencers and parents aware of the variety of careers on offer, the skills required by employers and the progression routes and pathways that exist from school, through further and higher education and apprenticeships.

FDF Scotland works in partnership with many other organisations to support schools and industry working together. We also run awareness raising events, develop resources and manage a network of Food and Drink ambassadors – who give up their time to help us promote food and drink as the career destination of first choice. We need the Scottish Government and people working in the industry to continue to support this important work. Another key part of achieving a Good Food Nation is to help improve access to and understanding of healthy local food. To support this, we are delighted to be delivering Scottish Government funded reformulation support for small to medium food companies across Scotland.

This support will help these ­businesses make their products and recipes healthier. Our Reformulation Project Manager will find a tailored solution for each company based on the type of products they make and the resource they have.

This may include helping the business to reduce fat, salt and sugars from their products; or it may involve increasing levels of fibre and nutrients; or even looking at portion size and clearer labelling information. Often, we can point these businesses in the direction of funding or further support to help them achieve this.

Another key element is supporting Scotland’s food businesses to become more productive and to minimise their impact on the local and wider environment. Investing in innovation and science will be the most ­effective way to support this. This could include finding ways to reduce food waste, save energy and water usage, or looking at alterative food packaging.

To become a Good Food Nation, partnership working is vital. We are proud to be part of the Scotland Food & Drink partnership, which brings together representative bodies from across the food chain, the Scottish Government and support agencies. This partnership is essential to ensure Scottish food and drink businesses are ­supported to continue to play their part in becoming a Good Food Nation.

David Thomson, CEO, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland.