Throughout 2014 the best of Scotland’s food and drink was showcased on the world stage. At the Commonwealth Games products such as Scottish seafood, gourmet buffalo burgers, hearty Scotch Beef as well as sushi, ice cream and milkshakes were the focus of food and drink provenance activities organised by Think Local. To capitalise further on this focus on Scotland’s natural larder, in partnership with Scottish Government, Scotland Food & Drink, VisitScotland and EventScotland, we celebrate the 2015 Year of Food and Drink. Throughout 2015 businesses have the chance to showcase to people at home and abroad not only the fabulous food and drink but also the fabulous people and the heritage behind Scotland’s tremendously varied produce.
Food and drink is one of the key sectors within the Scottish economy. The sector experienced 14.4% growth in turnover between 2008 and 2011, a 32% rise in the retail sales of Scottish food and drink between 2007 and 2013 and “an explosion in the local food movement with 150 new initiatives”. Now is the time to capitalise on this growth opportunity. SAC Consulting manages the Think Local initiative which has been created to assist in the development of Scotland’s local food and drink culture. If you have a food and drink based business enterprise idea or simply want to find out more about Think Local ask your local consultant to put you in touch with a member of the Food & Drink team at SAC Consulting.
For those of you who have already diversified into food and drink, hospitality or are keen to capitalise on supply chain opportunities beyond the farm / croft gate then the monthly themes throughout this Year of Food and Drink provide ample opportunities. A calendar of monthly themes has been launched by Scotland Food & Drink and Think Local and, perhaps not surprisingly given we celebrate Scotland’s Bard in January, it was the month of traditional foods.
The country’s national dish, haggis was celebrated along with other dishes from Cullen Skink to Stovies and Clootie Dumpling through to Orkney Beremeal Bannocks. Highlighting these traditional foods not only encourages hotels and restaurants to feature them on menus, it is also hoped that consumers will be inspired to try these dishes for themselves at home.
The monthly themes continue in February with the “Food of Love” where oysters, steaks and chocolate come into their own. This should provide opportunities for the newly formed Scottish Chocolatier’s Network to showcase the 72 small-scale, artisan and specialist chocolatiers around Scotland. The network was formed in June 2014 and members produce chocolates in every imaginable flavour. The majority of the chocolatiers in the network create their products entirely by hand, and go to lengths to use the finest cocoa beans and locally sourced ingredients.
In June the spotlight will fall on youth development, skills and innovation as “The Future of Food” takes centre stage. There will be increased activity at key events such as the Royal Highland Show but excitement is building around the inaugural Children’s Food Festival in the Scottish Highlands. This two day event will enable children to make better food choices, try new products, flavours, skills and consider the food and drink sector as a career. The festival hopes to encourage a positive outlook towards food and food production in a way which engages with children and those responsible for helping children understand the importance of good food choices for health and wellbeing.
Later in the Year the focus turns to other sectors such as berries in July and dairy in August when an increased awareness of our fine quality milk will be welcome given the current milk price crisis currently affecting the sector. There will also be increased profile on other added value dairy products such as Scottish artisan cheeses and ice cream as it’s these home produced premium products that also help dairy farmers receive a fairer financial return.
Think Local is also responsible for increasing the number of EU Protected Food Names in Scotland. The EU Protected Food Name scheme highlights regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. It is hoped as 2015 progresses we will see an increased number of Protected Food Name applications of Scottish origin being submitted – adding to a prestigious list that already includes the likes of Stornoway Black Pudding, Scotch Beef, Scottish Farmed Salmon and Arbroath Smokies.
The year of Food & Drink provides opportunities for all. So whether you’re a local food and drink producer, retailer, caterer or simply a foodie at heart you all are invited to make the most of this year and take advantage of the enhanced focus on Scotland’s food and drink industry and engage with the people behind it.
Ceri Ritchie and Patrick Hughes, Food & Drink, SAC Consulting
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