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Recipe For Success - Scotland's National Food and Drink Policy

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Building on our reputation as a 'Land of food and drink'

"Scotland is blessed with one of the best natural larders in the world. The quality of these ingredients has already achieved global recognition, with many of the world's leading chefs serving Scottish produce on plates from San Francisco to Singapore, from New York to Melbourne."
Martin Wishart, Restaurateur

Food and drink from Scotland enjoys a strong positive image and positive reputation worldwide. This is thanks to our land managers, farmers and fishermen who have been custodians of our pure waters and spectacular landscapes for generations. Their hard work and continued commitment to quality means that our food and drink processors, manufacturers, retailers, hotels and restaurants have access to high quality inputs such as Scotch beef & lamb, pork, Scottish farmed salmon, venison, seafish, shellfish, crustaceans, soft fruit, cereals and vegetables.

In Scotland, a key driver for our reputation is tourism. Tourism makes a valuable contribution to our economy - with 16 million overnight visitors spending £4.2 billion each year - and we want to build on this. For food and drink around £700 million is spent in around 20,000 tourism-related outlets across Scotland each year.

However, Scotland's reputation as a place to eat out is a long way short of the levels reached by Scotland's produce, with many in the food service sector having an insufficient connection to our food and drink producers and the reputation enjoyed by their products. Consumers are also often left not knowing where the food destinations are, not knowing that Scotland is a good place to eat out, and not knowing whether they are eating and drinking Scottish.

Reputation is central to Scottish food and drink industry's ability to sustain its current position and its ability to grow turnover and profitability in Scottish, wider UK and international markets. We need to do more both at home and abroad. We need to continue protecting and strengthening existing well established food and drink products, we need to ensure the food we offer in Scotland is highly prized, presented and championed.

Protecting and enhancing our reputation as a 'Land for food and drink' is a key action of this policy.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop hosting a Homecoming Scotland event. With kind permission of David Steane.
First Minister Alex Salmond and Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop hosting a Homecoming Scotland event.
With kind permission of David Steane.

Minister for Enterprise, Jim Mathers unveils the new airport images that welcome all tourists to Scotland in the year of Homecoming.
Minister for Enterprise, Jim Mathers unveils the new airport images that welcome all tourists to Scotland in the year of Homecoming.

Progress so far

Homecoming Scotland 2009 is a unique year of celebration; for people living in Scotland, for the Scottish diaspora and for all those with an affinity with Scotland. It is being held this year to mark the 250th anniversary of our national poet, Robert Burns', birth. Over 300 events are being held, with many activities focussing on a range of themes, including golf, ancestry and whisky. There are over 60 events centred on food and drink; which emphasises the importance of Scotland's food and drink; these range from Whisky tours and tastings to Burns suppers; from porridge championships to a mushroom festival.

We have worked with a range of partners including Scottish Agricultural College, Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise, Scotland Food and Drink, Quality Meat Scotland and Seafood Scotland to support a range of activities to highlight the best of Scottish food and drink at home and abroad - this has included international events such as the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels and a local food showcase at the Royal Highland Show.

VisitScotland has included food and drink into much of its promotional activity, both in the UK and overseas. Recent VisitScotland activity linking food and tourism include:

  • Redevelopment of the EatScotland.com website, showcasing Scotland's quality produce, including restaurants, food producers, farmers' markets, farm shops, food trails and food and drink events.
  • Food and drink related promotion, linking to events and festivals promotion under the Homecoming Scotland banner.
  • Sponsoring a Food Tourism award at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards.
  • Sponsoring the Taste of Edinburgh event - an ideal opportunity to bring together consumers and industry operators, to promote quality Scottish produce.

We have also recognised the importance of the cooking skills of our chefs, and have introduced funding for adult Modern Apprenticeships in professional cookery to address industry needs for skilled chefs.

Next steps

Support consumers to eat fresh, seasonal produce and deliver clear, accurate labelling for the country of origin of their food

  • Pursue provision for mandatory country of origin labelling for Scotland under proposals currently being negotiated in Europe to enable consumers to make more informed choices about food provenance.
  • Develop, pilot and rollout a food origin and labelling toolkit to help hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafés source local food and to make it easier to tell consumers about the origin of the food they sell.
  • Recognise those establishments with a commitment to using and promoting local and regional produce through Taste of Scotland accreditation.
  • Work with the Food Standards Agency to revise guidance on origin labelling making it more understandable and easier to access for both consumers and industry.
  • Work with Scotland Food and Drink and key partners to develop clear guidelines on the use of Scotland and the Saltire as marketing tools.

Food tourism

Adopt a co-ordinated and focussed approach to Scottish Food and Drink tourism through a single group of key stakeholders and:

  • Develop an integrated food and drink tourism strategy.
  • Support successful food and drink tourism activities.
  • Deliver a promotion and PR drive for Scottish food and drink.
  • Evaluate options to extend the reach and impact of Eat Scotland.

Enhancing our reputation

  • Identify and pursue opportunities, provide advice and support for businesses that could benefit from the legal protection of protected food names.
  • Lead by example, where possible using food and drink from Scotland at Scottish Government sponsored events.
  • Build capacity in our regional food and drinks businesses by facilitating greater collaboration and communication through a national network of food forums.
  • Ensuring proper recognition for all those in Scotland, including visitor attractions, restaurants and people, who commit to supporting Scotland as a 'Land of food and drink'.
  • Continue to support the established network of certification that underpins Scotland's reputation for good production practice and animal health and welfare.
  • Support bodies such as Scotland Food and Drink, Quality Meat Scotland, Seafood Scotland, Scotch Whisky Association in their efforts to enhance the reputation of regional Scottish and Scottish food and drink nationally, UK-wide and internationally.
  • Using the opportunity of the Commonwealth Games in 2014 to support Scotland's healthy and environmentally sustainable food producers.