Scotland's iconic shortbread industry is under threat from rising prices in the butter market, it has emerged.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said measures will now be explored aimed at easing the strain on producers to combat shortages.
The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) will undertake an urgent feasibility study to explore opportunities for collective buying and storage, to boost sales.
The study will also look at the potential to forecast future market activity to mitigate the effects of volatility on the sector.
The work is being delivered through the £1 million Market Driven Supply Chain (MDSC) project, announced in March.
“Our food and drink industry is a significant and growing part of our economy and we want to support our manufacturers to compete in global markets – particularly during times of economic pressure," Mr Ewing said at the at the RBS Food and Drink conference.
“The price of wholesale butter has doubled since the start of the year, with wholesale prices at a record high. This is a concern for many of our smaller food and drink manufacturers who use butter as a primary ingredient, such as our shortbread and confectionary producers and bakeries, and who are finding trading tough.
“We have listened the concerns of our manufacturers and this urgent feasibility study will explore opportunities to exploit buying and efficiency savings made available through collaboration, boosting productivity and competitiveness within domestic and global markets. We expect to see the outcome of the study within the next month or so and we look forward to supporting the industry if whatever way we can.”