Food and drink is one of the main drivers behind Scotland’s growth in exports. Scotland Food & Drink’s Export Strategy is aiming for Scottish food and drink exports to be worth £7.1bn by 2017. If this figure is met, it will mean that exports will have doubled in a decade.
As a result of its work, spanning the two-years of the project, the Access 6 initiative has made a valuable contribution to meeting this target. It was led by Scotland Food & Drink, in cooperation with the Irish Exporters Association and Northern Ireland Food & Drink. The successes of Scotland’s food and drink industry play a vital role in delivering the objectives of Scotland’s Economic Strategy and the refreshed Action Plan for EU Engagement through securing investment in Scotland’s people, infrastructure and assets.
Access 6 operated as part of a wider cross-border programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the INTERREG IVA programme. The INTERREG IVA Programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and the project received match-funding from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
90 companies from the participating regions of Western Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland were provided with extensive training and mentorship over a two year period, with a view to developing new routes to market and export listings across six cross border clusters: London & SE England, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Benelux and North America.
Participating businesses were supported by Programme Mentors in each sector, whose role spanned everything from professional marketing assistance and logistical support, to business development solutions and in-market retail and service expertise. Supporting on a series of international study tours, the mentors provided SMEs with first-hand experience in what can traditionally be highly challenging markets to crack.
The Access 6 Export Learning Centre continues to provide a comprehensive on-line resource for businesses looking for guidance on how to start exporting. Created by leading experts in business exporting and supported by real life case studies, the centre consists of interactive training modules, downloadable business tools, and an extensive directory of industry contacts, offering an invaluable resource for food and drink SME’s across the country.
Further support was also provided earlier this year with the launch of a new logistics service, offering SMEs competitive rates on their transport and distribution costs when exporting throughout Europe. Developed by specialist supply chain consultancy PerformanSC, in conjunction with global logistics provider DSV, the service pools business from participating SMEs and delivers potential efficiencies on this basis.
Over 150 businesses have been helped towards successful exporting via information, training, or workshops provided though the Access 6 programme.
Amanda Brown, Industry Development Director of Scotland Food & Drink, commented: “Developing Scotland’s export activity is key to the continued growth of the food & drink industry, so it’s essential we support those small to medium sized businesses that will make an important contribution towards meeting the targets set by the industry.
“The Access 6 programme provided a phenomenal opportunity for each participating SME, arming them with the skills and knowledge required to make that leap into a new export market. The upskilled SMEs really embraced the programme and the benefit is evident. Not only will export sales increase but so too will overall sales, with participating businesses forecasting turnover growth of 22%. Our projections show that SMEs on this programme will double their exports by 2017. The legacy of the project is clear and we look forward to watching each SME build on these vital foundations in years to come.”
Contact: Scotland Food and Drink