Local food for everyone – a discussion: consultation

Everyone, from private individuals to businesses and organisations are invited to help shape a local food strategy for Scotland. This consultation is the first stage in a strategy to make high quality food accessible to all and promote the benefits of local food.

Section 3 – Scottish Government Activity

The 2014 paper Recipe for Success: becoming a good food nation highlighted the interplay between food and wider socio-economic factors, and aimed to ensure that everyone in Scotland has the opportunity, skills and confidence to access an affordable, healthy and balanced diet for themselves and their families.

Communities the length and breadth of Scotland have established thriving local food initiatives, and food businesses have been launched and grown providing quality produce direct to consumers or to other businesses. The Scottish Government has worked to grow the Scottish local food economy under three pillars:

  • connecting people with food
  • connecting Scottish producers with buyers
  • harnessing public sector procurement

In the next pages we set out just some of the range of activities already under way or planned.

Pillar One: Connecting people with food

Making land available for growing

The Scottish Government is helping communities access land for food growing purposes through:

  • the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. This Act places a number of duties on local authorities in relation to allotments and includes a duty on local authorities to prepare a Food Growing Strategy. A group of representatives from Local Authorities, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Allotment and Gardening Society (SAGS) support the implementation of the Act and the development of Food Growing Strategies.
  • the land and assets pillar of the Community Wealth Building strategy, which help communities access land for community growing and community gardens.

Grow Your Own

The Scottish Government provides funding to:

  • Trellis Scotland (£30,000 in 2021/22) for the 'Growing Good Health' project which will enable more people to improve their health and wellbeing through Grow Your Own initiatives and improve the support and resources Trellis Scotland offers in a range of care settings. The area of land under cultivation will increase and more individuals and communities will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to grow their own food.
  • Social Farms and Gardens (£37,000 in 2021/22), which represents over 300 organisations and works directly with grassroots community groups across Scotland, to deliver actions to increase the land available for community food growing. The funded project aims to improve food growing skills and knowledge to support communities and individuals to grow their own food.
  • Green Action Trust (£100,000 in 2021/22) to establish community growing activities, particularly in areas of social deprivation and practical support for people in such areas to use green space for food production.

Learning about food

The Scottish Government encourages learning about food through:

  • the Good Food Futures partnership programme, which brings together Government-funded projects run by the Royal Highland Education Trust, Education Scotland, Food and Drink Federation Scotland and Soil Association Scotland. It ensures a more joined up approach to food education planning and delivery, with better opportunities for organisations in Scotland with an interest in food education and careers in the food and drink sector to work together effectively.
  • making food education an integral part of the national educational curriculum, meaning that all schools are expected to deliver on this subject in line with the experiences and outcomes detailed in Curriculum for Excellence. The food and health experiences and outcomes are designed to ensure children and young people are taught about food in its widest sense and to understand the impact their choices have on their health and wellbeing, the environment and the economy. This learning includes exploring where food comes from and career opportunities in the food and farming industry.

The Scottish Government provides funding to:

  • Education Scotland (£190,000 in funding for 2021-22) to distribute grants to educational settings for projects which contribute to achieving Good Food Nation outcomes.
  • Royal Highland Education Trust (£75,000 of funding in 2021-22) for the delivery of digital farm visits for school children, with accompanying classroom resources.

Improving access to locally produced food

The Scottish Government seeks to improve access to locally produced food through:

  • investing over £2 billion in support to low income households in 2020-21. Maximising income and reducing the cost of living enables households to better access food that meets their needs and preferences. Our prioritisation of cash-first responses to financial hardship help to boost income and prevent future crisis.
  • supporting Public Health Scotland to run Community Food and Health (Scotland) which provides capacity building, resource and evaluation support to local initiatives. Their aim is to ensure that everyone in Scotland has the opportunity, ability and confidence to access a healthy and acceptable diet for themselves, their families and their communities. This work can include local growing initiatives and agreements with local producers.
  • over £140 million was invested in tackling food insecurity during the pandemic, and partnership working at pace between different sectors and services ensured that people were able to access food and other essentials. We continue to work with local partners to build on these relationships and support action that boosts household income alongside help to access food where needed.

The Scottish Government provides funding to:

  • four community food networks (£100,000) (Lanarkshire Community Food & Health Partnership, Glasgow Community Food Network Community Food Initiatives North East and Edinburgh Community Food). Their activities increase the access to affordable, healthy food to members of their local communities. This will include community growing and agreements with local producers.
  • the Investing Communities Fund, which includes a wide range of local food-related activities, including food banks, food pantries, community gardens and growing, education/cooking skills, and community cafés. Children's clubs and activities for older people also include elements of supporting healthy eating including lunch clubs, homework clubs, after school provision.
  • the Supporting Communities Fund and Communities Recovery Fund (CRF), which has included support to address food challenges and poverty over the course of the pandemic. The final phase of Covid funding through the CRF is currently underway which aims to support communities in their recovery from the pandemic, such as transitioning from emergency services and activities toward more sustainable provision. Food has continued to be a strong theme with communities looking at ways in which they can adopt longer term solutions to ongoing poverty/food related challenges while encouraging the provision of more dignified options, that make best use of local resources and assets.

The communities funds above are designed to identify and address local issues associated with poverty and disadvantage while supporting a range of community goals including local economy, local production, environment and climate objectives. These funds are community-led, recognising that communities themselves know best what they need to address their local challenges and identify local solutions.

Pillar Two: Connecting Scottish producers with buyers

Foster short and circular supply chains

In order to foster short and circular supply chains:

  • the Scottish Government works with members of the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership through the Food and Drink Recovery plan to:
    • Raise the profile of producer/farmer markets across Scotland,
    • promote access to fresh local produce through butchers, fishmongers, bakers and farm shops
  • the Scottish Government is developing a new Retail Strategy to support the sector through to the next 5 years and beyond. This will link in with work across government to support local businesses and suppliers.
  • the newly-launched 2021-22 Food Processing, Marketing and Cooperation Scheme offers over £7m of grants to businesses, with a focus on activity promoting short supply chains and low carbon.
  • the Scottish Government is exploring the opportunities offered by vertical farming, including offering a grant to SRUC to support the development of a vertical farm at their Edinburgh campus. Further work on vertical farming will involve community engagement and identification of the different applications of the technology in different contexts, and the nature of SG support.
  • enterprise agencies efforts to support local food production, for example through Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scotland's enterprise agencies that works to support company growth through employee ownership and co-operative business models. CDS help businesses and community enterprises grow by offering a range of advice and services, including free masterclasses and one-to-one support.

Encourage retailers to stock Scottish food

Retailers are encouraged to stock Scottish food through:

  • frequent ministerial-level engagement with major retailers to encourage them to source and promote Scottish produce in their stores.
  • Scottish Government and Scotland Food & Drink facilitation of regional showcase trade events to bring together more suppliers and buyers to drive local sales. An event covering producers and suppliers across the Highlands and Islands and North East is planned for November 2021, with further events scheduled later in 2021/22..

The Scottish Government provides funding to:

  • Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) pilot of "Go Local". 10 stores were provided with £10,000 match funding to develop a Scottish Produce section and engage with local producers as suppliers. An Interim Evaluation showed positive results with a 40% increase of sales of local produce in stores. A second phase of the programme providing £190,000 funding to SGF was announced in June 2021 to roll the project out further over 2021/22.
  • create new posts in buying teams of the major UK retailers and food service companies to broker more sourcing of Scottish produce. Two new joint Scotland Food & Drink/Business graduate roles currently in development, one with Morrisons and one with Brakes Foodservice.
  • support small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) via Scotland Food & Drink to obtain SALSA or BRC food safety accreditation, to help them access more markets.
  • deliver a programme in partnership with key retailers and foodservice customers to increase listings of Scottish products in Scottish outlets. This is led by Scotland Food & Drink's UK Market Development team who are working hand in hand with major retailers and foodservice companies, who are proving very receptive and open to the local sourcing agenda.

Encourage consumers to buy Scottish food

Consumers are encouraged to buy Scottish food through:

  • the major 'Scotland on the Table' campaign, which runs across media and other outlets to drive increased sales and awareness of Scottish food and drink. The first 4 week tranche of this launched in early 2021. A second 4 week phase of the campaign is in development, due to run in September 2021 aligned to Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.
  • the annual Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight campaign (September 2021), which showcases and highlights the strength of the local food and drink offering.
  • Scottish Government supporting producers to obtain Geographical Indication (GI) status for their products, offering them protection from imitation as well as market differentiation in the UK and abroad. This is accompanied by promotion activity for GI products, including the Quality Meat Scotland "Make it Scotch" campaign.

The Scottish Government provides funding to:

  • Scotland Food & Drink to develop the Support Local Directory, as a first response to Covid-19 and the closure of traditional routes to market for many food and drink suppliers. It has acted as a national supplier directory for businesses who had increased online selling. Post-pandemic, further work is being done now to develop the industry's ecommerce strategy and route to market.
  • support the expansion of Visit Scotland's Taste our Best scheme across the tourism sector, delivering more opportunities for local suppliers
  • Scotland's Town Partnership (£10m multi-year fund), to deliver the recently launched 'Scotland Loves Local' programme. This programme builds community and business resilience by encouraging people to 'choose local', supporting their local businesses.
  • the Regional Food Fund, which provides grants of up to £5,000 to a variety of projects promoting local food. The most recent funding round (announced July 2021) means that since 2018 the fund has now awarded over £550k to 121 creative, innovative & collaborative projects across the regions of Scotland
  • joint Scotland Food & Drink/Local Authority posts to support regional food groups. These groups championing their area's food and drink sector. From Shetland and Orkney to East Lothian, Angus and Fife to Ayrshire & Arran and the Outer Hebrides, the current network of 18 groups work to help grow their local businesses, develop their regional identities, drive spend on local food and develop food tourism

Encourage use of Scottish products as inputs

The Scottish Government provides funding to:

  • a joint Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Wholesale Association and SAOS supply chain study on logistics and fulfilment for small and micro businesses. This will help educate both sides of the supply chain – wholesalers about benefits of sourcing Scottish, also educating producers on how to sell into wholesale.

Pillar Three: Harnessing public sector procurement

Leverage public sector buying power to support Scottish producers

To encourage better access to public sector procurement for local food producers:

  • the Scottish Government's Better Eating, Better Learning guidance provides a framework for sustainable, local food and drink within procurement practice for educational settings.
  • education authorities, supported by Scotland Excel, remain committed to using local and sustainable produce in school catering wherever possible as they have done for many years recognising the wide ranging benefits of doing so.
  • the Scottish Government will use feedback gathered via this consultation and engagement with local authorities and public sector procurement groups to inform an update of 'Catering for Change: buying food sustainably in the public sector', providing guidance for anyone involved in the procurement of food or catering services in the public sector.

The Scottish Government provides funding for:

  • the Food for Life Programme, which now operates across 15 local authorities in Scotland, supporting the provision of more locally sourced, healthier food being served in schools. In 2021/22 we will target all 32 local authorities through £400,000 of funding.


Email: local.food.policy@gov.scot

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