Scots products rampant whatever the wrapper says

A basket containing some of the nation's most recognisable brands. Picture: John Devlin
A basket containing some of the nation's most recognisable brands. Picture: John Devlin
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Sales of Scottish food brands to UK consumers have gone up by 15 per cent in the past five years, with gluten free foods, alcohol and trademark products such as Irn-Bru and Tunnock’s tea cakes all faring well south of the border.

Experts said a perception that Scots products are likely to be high quality, combined with focused marketing from some of the nation’s best-loved names, had led to the rise in demand in England.

The exclusive figures from Kantar Worldpanel also showed that Scots are increasingly opting for healthy products to eat, with shopping baskets containing more dried pulses than in the rest of the UK, while consumers are adding fruit to their basket almost nine times more per year and customers are buying vegetables 75.8 times a year compared with 71.5 times five years ago.

Scotland has seen strong growth in the gluten-free market in the past five years, said Kantar, with companies such as Edinburgh-based Genius, which is one of the UK’s top providers of gluten-free bakery products, leading the way.

Amanda Brown, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said that ambitious Scottish companies had expanded their marketing in recent years to take in more lucrative markets south of the border.

“It’s a combination of alcohol brands and non-alcohol and food,” she said. “There are Scottish brands which you find are not as Scottish in terms of their sales as they grow. These products and brands have made a conscious decision that they need to grow their market outside of Scotland.”

She added: “Brands like [jam maker] McKays from Arbroath have only around 30 per cent of their sales in Scotland.”

She added: “However, there are some sectors that are very specific to Scotland, such as pies. [Pie making] companies like Bells, Malcolm Allen and Simon Howie find that their heartland remains in Scotland.”

Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at Stirling University, said: “There is a perception of quality around Scotland and Scottish products. One example is the premium that can be charged for Scottish meat.

“There has been better marketing of Scotland, as well as a push internationally, which has had a knock-on effect in the rest of the UK. He said that companies such as Genius had found a niche in the market – and worked to make itself a UK-wide brand

He added: “There is more energy in some of the smaller companies, a shake-up of some of the older companies and strong growth in some of the start-ups. I think the fact that a lot of supermarkets have expanded in Scotland in recent years has also had an effect: they start selling local products in their Scottish stores and then they begin to penetrate the market more widely.”

Last year, Tunnock’s came under fire after it emerged it had ditched the Scottish Lion Rampant on its packaging and advertised its best-loved product in England as “Tunnock’s Great British Teacake”.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Aberdeenshire ice cream maker Mackie’s had landed a £700,000 deal with Sainsbury’s which is to stock its honeycomb ice cream in 457 of its stores, UK-wide.