Becoming a Good Food Nation: an analysis of consultation responses

Full analysis of responses to the consultation on development of a revised national food and drink policy.


1.1 This report presents an analysis of the 229 submissions received in response to the Scottish Government's consultation Becoming a Good Food Nation.


1.2 Scotland's first national food and drink policy, Recipe for Success, was published in 2009. [1] The current discussion paper, Becoming a Good Food Nation, invited views on a range of matters to help shape the development of a revised food and drink policy. The document set out an aspiration for Scotland to become a 'Good Food Nation'. The intention was that this would be based on a cross-policy approach encompassing - amongst other things - health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability, local food production, and the continued economic development of Scotland's food and drink sector. These align with a number of the Scottish Government's strategic objectives and national outcomes, [2] highlighting the cross-cutting nature of the issue and the multiple benefits that might be achieved in becoming a Good Food Nation.

1.3 The discussion paper described the progress made since the launch of Recipe for Success, particularly in relation to the continuing economic success of the food and drink industry. However, it also identified substantial challenges - both economic and cultural - which still remain. Thus, while reaffirming the commitment to growing the food and drink industry, the paper also set out an increased emphasis on ensuring that future policy addresses issues relating to diet, health, food culture and awareness, food security and the environmental impact of the food industry.

1.4 The discussion paper set out a vision for 2025 and sought opinions on the vision and on a range of related matters including priority areas to be addressed; preliminary steps to be taken; the role of a Food Commission; indicators of progress and success; and possible approaches to adopt. In addition, individuals, communities and organisations were invited to consider the impact that being a Good Food Nation would have on them, and actions they could take to help achieve the vision.

The consultation process

1.5 The discussion paper included 13 open questions inviting views on different aspects of the paper, while an additional question in the consultation questionnaire sought information on how people had become aware of the discussion paper. [3] More generally, there was a stated wish to see 'wholehearted participation from people in all walks of life', and an invitation to people to offer their views on the propositions contained in the discussion paper, and to submit 'food stories, inspiring pledges and how you think Scotland can become a Good Food Nation'.

1.6 The discussion paper was issued on 18 June 2014, with a closing date for submissions of 17 October 2014 (subsequently extended to 31 October 2014). A launch event at Inch Park Community Sports Centre in Edinburgh was attended by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment and around 70 invited stakeholder representatives.

1.7 The Scottish Government took a number of steps to help ensure the consultation reached its target audience. Around 800 copies of the discussion document were issued to an initial distribution list of organisations and individuals including local authorities and community planning partnerships; key stakeholder organisations in the food and drink, health, and environment sectors; and respondents to previous relevant consultations. Additional copies of the document were provided on request. It was also available on the Scottish Government's website, was promoted through the Government's email alerts, email newsletters, and social media channels, and was distributed at appropriate events (the Royal Highland Show and Food and Drink Fortnight). Stakeholders were alerted to the consultation and were encouraged to promote the discussion paper through their own communication channels and to circulate it within their own networks.

1.8 A total of 229 submissions were received in a range of formats including written responses (accounting for the majority of responses), responses received via an online questionnaire developed by a stakeholder organisation, and responses which took the form of feedback from events and activities run by stakeholder organisations. [4] Given the broad nature of the topic and the open questions posed, the responses inevitably covered a diverse range of issues; individual questions were answered in a range of ways; and there was significant overlap in responses across questions.

Approach to the analysis

1.9 The aim of this report is to present an analysis of the comments received, representing the totality of the material submitted. The approach to the analysis took account of the range of responses received, and the varied material submitted, and provided a robust thematic framework for the analysis based on, but not constrained by, the discussion questions themselves.

1.10 All responses were entered into a database structured around the consultation questions. Comments from responses that did not follow the format of the consultation questionnaire were entered against relevant questions as appropriate. Comments not relating to any of the set questions were also entered into the database. [5] Analysis was then carried out using a qualitative thematic approach. Quantitative analysis was carried out in relation to the numbers and types of respondents and responses.

1.11 The discussion paper and questions set can be characterised as moving from the general to the specific, from the vision and priorities, through to implementation and actions, and this narrative flow provided the overarching framework for the analysis. Questions were grouped to reflect this, and material from the responses was considered in relation to relevant groupings of questions. Within the groups of questions, themes and sub-themes were identified. The framework and related key questions were as follows:

  • The Good Food Nation vision (Question 1, 3)
  • Priorities for future work (Question 9, 10)
  • Defining success and measuring progress (Question 2, 4, 7)
  • Implementation and delivery (Question 5, 6, 8)
  • Helping Scotland to become a Good Food Nation (Question 13)
  • Other issues (Question 11,12)
  • Contributing to the consultation (Question 14)

1.12 Throughout this report the main focus is on exploring the qualitative views submitted by respondents. However, in considering the findings of the analysis, it is important to bear in mind that views gathered through an open consultation exercise cannot be regarded as representative of the views of the population as a whole. Rather they are the views of people who were aware of the consultation, have an interest in the subject under discussion, and have the time, opportunity and capacity to take part.

1.13 The report presents the views as submitted by respondents. No attempt has been made to assess or verify the arguments and evidence received.

The report

1.14 Details of the structure of the report are presented below with the key consultation questions for the analysis in different chapters noted in brackets:

  • Chapter 2: Overview of respondents and responses
  • Chapter 3: Becoming a Good Food Nation - The vision (Question 1, 3)
  • Chapter 4: Setting priorities (Question 9, 10)
  • Chapter 5: Defining and measuring progress and success (Question 2, 4, 7)
  • Chapter 6: Implementation and delivery (Question 5, 6, 8)
  • Chapter 7: Helping Scotland become a Good Food Nation (Question 4, 13)
  • Chapter 8: Views on contributing to the consultation (Question 14)
  • Chapter 9: Conclusions

1.15 As noted above, the chapters draw on all relevant material from responses in analysing the views relevant to individual questions posed. In particular the issues raised in response to Questions 11 and 12 have been integrated into the main substantive chapters as appropriate.

1.16 A list of organisational respondents and a list of the consultation questions are included as annexes to the report.



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