Section 1 - Introduction
Scotland has some of the best food and drink in the world, enjoyed around the globe and creating jobs the length and breadth of the country. Since 2007 the Scottish Government has dramatically improved the landscape for food in Scotland, from school lunches to whisky exports, from allotment provision to agricultural innovation.
The people of Scotland deserve to have access to the best produce Scotland has to offer, whether they're growing it themselves, buying it directly from a local producer, choosing it at a convenience store or supermarket, being served it at school, or in any number of other settings. Low income should not be a barrier to a healthy, balanced diet.
The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change. More and more, people want to know where their food has come from – who made it, what conditions animals were kept in, how far it has travelled and how it supports local jobs and investment. Local food can offer a lot of the answers.
We have worked with the public, industry and other organisations to make sure our policies deliver for the communities we serve. Ambition 2030, the Good Food Nation policy and the Agriculture Bill set out our aspirations for Scotland to become a Good Food Nation, driving environmentally-sustainable, inclusive growth and making sure everyone can afford a healthy, pleasurable diet.
The Scottish Government and the food and drink sector have a uniquely collaborative way of working. In particular, the Scottish Government is an anchor member of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership brings together multiple industry organisations alongside Scottish Government and its agencies. We are funding the delivery of the Partnership's food and drink recovery plan, a central plank of which is strengthening Scotland's local food culture and supply chain.
But we want to go further. Local production has enormous potential to enrich lives, improve diets, reduce food miles and keep value in communities. We want to make sure that we're learning from others, adopting good practice, and removing the barriers that are stopping people growing, using, choosing or buying Scottish food at every opportunity.
Additionally, the SNP manifesto for the 2021 election made a commitment to support the development of vertical, low carbon farms, fuelled by renewable energy, to produce more of our own fruit and vegetables. Given the relevance to local food production, we are also taking the opportunity to seek views on vertical farming within this consultation.
Part A (Section 1-3) of this consultation presents the three pillars of the Scottish Government's local food strategy - connecting people with food; connecting Scottish producers with buyers; and harnessing public sector procurement. It aims to start a conversation about local food in Scotland, inviting contributions about how everyone involved in food in Scotland could work together to build a food system based around quality local production and short and circular supply chains, to make high quality Scottish produce available to all.
Part B (Section 4) of this consultation provides an overview of vertical farming, a technology which may be able to help Scotland increase its local food production and bring food production closer to the consumer. The consultation contains questions on vertical farming which are primarily focused at people and businesses in the food supply chain, as well as inviting suggestions on other technologies which would help Scotland produce more of its own fruit and vegetables.
Part A – Local Food
Overview: food and drink in Scotland today
The food and drink industry is a major contributor to Scotland's economy, generating turnover of around £14.9 billion and adding close to £5.6 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2018. It is made up of over 17,000 businesses, which employ around 122,000 people, many in remote and economically fragile rural and island communities.
Food and drink is Scotland's biggest export industry, making up 20.7% of Scotland's international exports. Overseas exports of food and drink were worth a record £6.7bn in 2019, an increase of £2.6bn (62%) since 2009 (source HMRC).
Scotland is a nation producing high quality, rather than high volume, food and drink products. Our targets for increasing turnover will only be achieved by strengthening the supply chain, for example, by adding value to the many high-quality food and drink products that we produce in this country, and by looking to expand domestic production and processing of our high quality primary produce, as well as encouraging efficiencies in production.
The replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) gives the Scottish Government an opportunity to review the balance of objectives. In particular it will allow a shift in the way we support farmers, crofters and land managers to be global leaders in sustainable food production. This will ensure the sector makes the emission reductions required to contribute to Scotland's world-leading emissions targets, and supports nature restoration whilst delivering high quality food.