National Good Food Nation Plan

The national Good Food Nation Plan sets out six over-arching Outcomes for a Good Food Nation; the range of targets and indicators that will be used to gauge progress towards achieving them; and details of a wide range of food-related policies and initiatives from across the Scottish Government.

Part Three: Working Towards a Good Food Nation

Working Mechanisms

This first national Good Food Nation Plan is the next step along the road of our journey towards a better food system. It exists to provide an overarching framework for a clear, consistent, and coherent future Scottish food policy that will be taken forward at both the national and local levels.

The national Good Food Nation Plan will only be fully effective if it is properly embedded in a cross-policy approach to food policy. We must continue to foster cross-cutting links between ministers and officials working on all aspects of food policy.

This collaborative approach to food policymaking is already in place on an informal basis within Scottish Government, but we have identified the need for a more formal approach. The Good Food Nation team will act as a conduit for connections between policy areas to support such collaborative working.

The Ministerial Working Group on Food will continue to act as the mechanism for cross-portfolio discussions and decision-making on food related policy at the Ministerial level.

To further facilitate cross-policy working, we will also introduce and support an official Good Food Nation Working Group. This group will act as a forum for policy officials to discuss complex issues and provide an opportunity to work through challenges and identify opportunities for developing food-related policy in a coherent manner. Official and ministerial working groups will interact at appropriate points with other relevant groups within the Scottish Government, for example groups working on climate change policy.

We will engage with the food-related business sector and other key stakeholders throughout the development and review of this plan and its future iterations.

The effectiveness of national and relevant authority Good Food Nation Plans in addressing food-related issues and progressing towards achieving their Outcomes will be kept under review by the Scottish Food Commission. The Commission will be able to make formal recommendations to Scottish Ministers and relevant authorities regarding actions that should be taken in relation to the Good Food Nation Plans.


Food policy is incredibly varied and extends into a range of different areas within the Scottish Government.

We have organised current and future government policies and actions into four sections based around key groups in the food system: People and Communities; Providers and Places; Farmers, Food Producers and Processers; and Policymakers.

People and Communities collects policies that are targeted at individuals and communities. These are policies that focus on improving individual situations and securing better access to healthy and sustainable food.

Providers in this context is defined as those who supply food to other people in a variety of settings. This section therefore includes policies on public sector food provision; retail; restaurants; and similar. It also includes any policies that influence what is made available to the public in these settings, such as school food regulations.

The Farmers, Food Producers and Processors section contains policies that are directed at those who grow; rear; catch; or harvest food, as well as those who manufacture and process food stuffs.

The final section, Policymakers, covers some other key overarching government policies and strategies that interlink with food policy and must be considered and reflected upon when making new policies.

Of course, not all policies will fall neatly into one of these categories. However, we believe that organising the policies in this manner emphasises that achieving a Good Food Nation requires action across the food system. Our policies now, and going forward, will identify key areas of action to help everyone in Scotland play their part in the Good Food Nation.

Table 2 in the previous chapter provides an overview of the policy areas covered in the following sections matched to: the Outcomes to which they contribute; and key targets and indicators for those Outcomes.

Snapshot Boxes: Snapshots of a Good Food Nation

We know that some of the concepts in this Plan can seem abstract. To help to make life in a Good Food Nation more tangible we have included a series of snapshots to illustrate what a Good Food Nation might look like in practice.

People and Communities

Life in a Good Food Nation

Scotland can only become a Good Food Nation with the participation and co-operation of those who live and work here. Everyone living in a Good Food Nation will have reliable access to safe, nutritious, affordable, sustainable, and age and culturally appropriate food.

People will benefit from a sustainable food system that plays a role in improving biodiversity and treats animals with care. People can enjoy good food locally and will be able to make well-informed decisions in relation to their food.

The ultimate aim is to help to make Scotland a better and more prosperous place for everyone: a place where people are happy, healthy, and secure. The policies outlined in this chapter are steps towards achieving all our Good Food Nation Outcomes and making them a reality.

Best Start to Life in A Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To support, promote and protect breastfeeding
  • To support parents to make informed choices about their children’s diets
  • To improve access to healthy foods and milk for those on lower incomes during pregnancy and when their children are under 3

Snapshot Box: As a child in a Good Food Nation

  • I have access to healthy and nutritious food that is appropriate for my age and developmental stage
  • Eating and enjoying a healthy diet is the norm for me
  • I have the opportunity to participate in a variety of food-related educational experiences on a regular basis
  • I will never experience hunger

Our children and young people are instrumental in shaping the present and future of our Good Food Nation. We are focused on supporting them to have the best possible experience of the Scottish food system throughout their lives.

We want to make sure that all babies in Scotland have the best possible nutritional start in life and parents have the information they need to make informed choices on how to feed their babies.

The longer babies receive breastmilk, the more benefits for both the mother and baby into later life. We are keen to ensure that it is easy for mothers to breastfeed anywhere they need to do so, including when returning to work and outside their home in public places. Although we have seen small increases in breastfeeding rates for younger women over the past few years, and a slight narrowing of inequalities, it remains clear that those in the lowest income areas are least likely to choose to breastfeed. Along with the known health benefits, breastfeeding has minimal costs and is not impacted by supply chain issues or pressures on household budgets.

It is important that we continue to build on the positive work carried out to date to improve the culture and advocacy around breastfeeding through promotion of our Ready Steady Baby! and Parent Club. Additionally, the Baby Box ensures that every family with a newborn has access to essential items needed in the first six months of a child’s life. This helps to tackle deprivation; improve health; and support parents during the first few months of their child’s life, including with breastfeeding. The Baby Box also provides health professionals with material to introduce expectant parents to a wide range of information and advice aimed at improving health and wellbeing outcomes including during pregnancy and immediately post birth. This maintains our Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation across NHS and community settings through peer support and wider stakeholders within communities and employers to create welcoming spaces to breastfeed or express breastmilk. Where parents choose to formula feed, there is protection through legislation from unsolicited and inappropriate marketing of infant formula milk that could undermine parental capacity to understand their babies’ needs.

We will also enhance our parent facing material and health professionals’ training on the introduction of solid foods to aid understanding of where early food choices can determine future dietary preferences. This will include information on why choosing fresh foods or minimally processed foods over manufactured baby foods is an important consideration and will raise awareness of the harm that using snacks marketed at young children and/or pouches as part of an early childhood diet can cause for babies and young children’s development and future health.

There is strong evidence that healthy diets in early childhood contribute towards reducing childhood obesity; improving physical health; and overall child development. We support parents, carers and practitioners to understand this important link between nutrition and early child development by providing relevant information to empower them to make healthy and appropriate choices for the child or children in their care, whatever their age and stage.

Our Parent Club website has a dedicated section on food and eating which provides a range of resources to support families to eat healthier on a budget. This includes ideas on how to get children involved in preparing and cooking healthy meals. The Parent Club Recipe Database includes healthy options and choices that have been approved by nutritionists and the Parent Club Meal Planner makes planning healthy meals easier. The website also contains guidance for parents and carers on talking to children about weight and body image alongside a national directory for child healthy weight services in Scotland, allowing parents and carers to access information and self-refer to support in their locality, should they need to.

Since 2020/21, the Scottish Government has provided in-year additional funding to many health boards and local partners for projects to encourage healthy eating and physical activity in families and communities at risk of diet-related health inequalities. One approach adopted by many health boards was the HENRY approach which provides training interventions that equip practitioners to support families to make positive lifestyle changes and create a healthier home environment. An evaluation of the approach was undertaken in NHS Lothian, Shetland and Western Isles.

Children’s early life experiences strongly influence their outcomes in later life. Inequalities that begin before birth can impact health throughout adult life and can persist across generations. That is why we are taking active steps, through interventions such as Best Start Foods, to ensure that no child in Scotland experiences hunger. This initiative improves access to healthy foods and milk during pregnancy and for families with children under the age of three who are on a low income and in receipt of certain benefits under a certain amount.

Between launching on 12 August 2019 and 31 March 2023, Best Start Foods has provided over £41 million to those families who need it most. In recognition of the difficulties being faced by many due to the increased cost of living, we increased Best Start Foods payments on 3 April 2023 by 10.1%, in line with inflation.

We are delivering on our manifesto commitment to increase eligibility for Best Start Foods to all in receipt of Universal Credit. In fact, we are going further by removing the income thresholds for all qualifying benefits from February 2024, supporting an additional 20,000 people.

Snapshot Box: As a parent/carer in a Good Food Nation

  • I am knowledgeable about how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for those in my care and empowered to do so
  • I know where to go for support should I experience difficulties that prevent me from purchasing food or preparing hot food at home
  • I am confident that childcare settings and schools are providing healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and that they are educating children about the food system
  • If I am pregnant I know where to go for support and can make fully informed choices on how to feed myself and my baby
Schools and Early Learning and Childcare in a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To provide daily portions of fruit or vegetables and milk or non-dairy alternatives to all children in preschool childcare
  • To provide all children in funded Early Learning and Childcare with a free, healthy meal in their childcare setting
  • To roll out provision of free school meals to all primary school pupils

In addition to policies that aim to ensure that children and young people can access a healthy and nutritious diet in their home environment, the Scottish Government also aims to provide and promote healthy and nutritious food to children in schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings.

The Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (SMHSS) reinforces our ambition to improve children’s health outcomes by establishing healthy eating habits from an early age. It is intended that these habits will be taken forward into adolescence and then throughout adult life. The Scheme offers a serving of milk (or a specified non-dairy alternative) and a portion of fruit or vegetables to all infant and preschool children who attend a registered childcare setting for 2 hours or more per day.

In addition to milk (or a non-dairy alternative) and a healthy snack, preschool children accessing funded ELC are also entitled to receive a free meal in their setting. This entitlement can be delivered as a breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is not based on any eligibility criteria beyond the child being eligible for funded ELC (a universal offer for all 3, 4 and eligible 2 year olds). The National Standard for early learning and childcare providers states that childcare settings must have a clear and comprehensive policy for the provision of healthy meals and snacks for children. A requirement to provide a meal to children in funded childcare places was introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s expansion to 1140 funded hours of ELC.

Supporting improvement in children’s health in the earliest years is crucial for tackling health inequalities. Investing in positive health outcomes for children through the provision of improved nutrition and the embedding of healthy eating habits from an early age are principles that continue to underpin policy for meal provision into the school years.

We are therefore committed to expanding delivery of universal free school meals to all primary school pupils. Our free school meals programme is now providing more children and young people with access to free meals in school term time than ever before. Free school meals are currently available for all pupils in primaries 1–5. The next phase of the expansion will provide free school meals to children in primaries 6 and 7 who are in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment.

Our responsibility to ensure that children have access to nutritious and healthy food does not stop at the school gate. Our vision is that Scotland will have a system of accessible and affordable school age childcare, providing care before and after school and during the holidays for primary school children from low-income households. As part of this offer, children will be able to access healthy and nutritious food in these settings.

Appropriate integration of food provision within school-age childcare can help to address food insecurity in a rights-based, dignified, and stigma-free way. It also provides additional opportunities to promote healthy attitudes to food. The Scottish Government will continue to work with those across the childcare and food insecurity sectors to further understand how food provision can be successfully integrated with school age childcare in ways that will help to reduce food insecurity and the effects of poverty.

Education for a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To deliver education about food through Curriculum for Excellence, and via funding for specific targeted initiatives such as pupil farm visits
  • To raise awareness of the Good Food Nation Outcomes

In a Good Food Nation the population will be educated about and interested in the source of their food. To achieve this outcome we are taking steps to ensure that learning about food forms a part of the broad general education available to children and young people in Scotland through our Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

CfE seeks to provide children and young people with a coherent curriculum including well planned experiences across all curriculum areas contributing to defined outcomes, and opportunities to attain and achieve.

Food education encompasses not only cooking itself, but also topics such as food choices; sustainability; and the influences of advertising and culture. Pupils in our schools can expect to learn about the relationship that their food choices have to their health and wellbeing. This learning can be delivered through a range of different curriculum areas: for example in maths; home economics; or science classes. A variety of different sectors are involved in providing educational resources and opportunities in schools. Learning might include school-based activities such as a visit from a farmer or chef; or trips to visit farms; crofts; factories; or restaurants. This varied approach will help to ensure that pupils develop a full understanding of food issues in their widest sense.

As well as food education being embedded across the school curriculum, all schools offer food and nutrition qualifications as outlined on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website.

For a number of years, the Scottish Government has also provided additional targeted funding to schools to contribute towards engaging children across Scotland in projects related to food. The Food for Thought Fund allows educational establishments to apply for small grants to deliver projects in which pupils learn about sustainable food production. These projects might involve growing their own produce; cooking and trying out new recipes; and gaining an appreciation of the value of locally produced food and drink. The projects also develop children’s numeracy, presentation, and communication skills and encourage them to learn more about Scottish heritage.

Scottish Government funding is also provided to support the well-established and respected Royal Highland Education Trust farm experience programme, which provides rural/farm experiences, either in-person or virtually, for thousands of children across the country.

The role of Scotland’s National Chef was created in 2016 to further raise awareness of the objectives of the Good Food Nation amongst adults as well as young people. The current incumbent, Gary Maclean, was appointed in November 2017 and his tenure was extended in 2021. Our National Chef has been taking steps to spread the positive message of a Good Food Nation and promoting the importance of cooking using locally sourced, Scottish products.

Snapshot Box: As an adult in a Good Food Nation

  • I can easily access food that I enjoy and that keeps me healthy and well
  • I know where to go if I experience financial difficulties, and the response is fast, coordinated and meets my needs with dignity and respect
  • Healthy and sustainable options are easy to find wherever I eat and buy food
  • I can easily access information about the environmental, social, and nutritional impacts of my food and its provenance that helps me to make informed decisions
Access to food for all in a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To ensure that everyone in Scotland has access to the food that meets their needs and preferences
  • To reduce levels of child poverty in Scotland
  • To promote cash-first responses to financial hardship, reducing the need for emergency food aid
  • To ensure that any direct food aid is provided in a manner that maximises dignity

It is our ambition that everyone in a good food nation will be able to afford the food that they need to stay healthy and happy: this is a cornerstone of delivering on the right to food. The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets ambitious statutory targets to reduce levels of child poverty. One such target is for fewer than 10% of children to be living in relative poverty by 2030. This means that, compared to the average UK household, fewer than one in ten children would be living in households on low incomes by 2030.

There is strong evidence[15] that compromising on food can have significant physical and mental health impacts, creating significant health inequalities. However, the rising cost of living is causing more people to cut back, skip meals, seek assistance from food banks, and even to go without food completely.[16]

The Scottish Government takes a human rights-based approach to household food insecurity. We believe that everyone should have a sufficient and secure income to be able to access food that meets their needs and preferences, including their dietary, social, and cultural needs.

In alignment with this approach, we prioritise actions that prevent poverty through fair work, social security, and that help to manage the cost of living so that no one has to worry about affording food or other essentials.

We promote cash-first responses to financial hardship to reduce the need for emergency food aid, and the integration of financial advice and holistic support services to prevent future hardship. Where direct help to access food is required, we support approaches that maximise dignity.

In June 2023, we published Cash-First: Towards Ending the Need for Food Banks in Scotland. This plan is underpinned by human rights principles which will help us to navigate emerging issues as we continue to respond to the unprecedented and still evolving economic context. It sets out nine collaborative actions that will improve the response to crisis over the next three years and start to reduce the need for emergency food parcels.

The learning we derive from these actions will be key to identifying scalable interventions that help to reduce the need for food banks and move us closer to our longer-term ambition of eliminating that need entirely. We will continue to pursue this ambition while maintaining pressure on the UK Government to use their reserved powers to strengthen household income.

We recognise that other aspects may also contribute to an individual’s capacity to access good food: for example time may play a factor. However, a key aspect of ensuring people can access healthy and nutritious food is providing the necessary infrastructure. Our National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) spatial strategy highlights opportunities for development and regeneration that are designed to tackle social, economic and health inequalities, applying the place principle. It supports a local living approach to place which encourages, promotes, and facilitates the creation of connected and compact neighbourhoods where people can meet the majority of their daily needs within a reasonable distance of home, preferably by walking, wheeling, cycling, or using sustainable transport options. Taking a local living approach can also mean that not only is healthy nutritious food more readily available, but there are opportunities to walk, wheel, and cycle to access it. This in turn has physical, health, and climate benefits.

The NPF4 approach supports objectives for access to healthy nutritious food through enabling and promoting outlets for it as well as resisting food outlets that may undermine such access. It is clear that when preparing local development plans, planning authorities should identify areas where proposals for healthy food and drink outlets can be supported.

For planning applications, NPF4 is clear that development proposals for non-retail uses, such as hot food takeaways and permanently sited vans, will not be supported if further provision will undermine the health and wellbeing of communities, particularly in disadvantaged areas. NPF4 supports a physically and mentally healthy population through the food eaten but also through promoting opportunities for being in a greener environment through food growing which supports wellbeing.

A Healthy Diet in a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To encourage progress towards achieving the Scottish Dietary Goals at a population level
  • To support consumers to achieve a healthier diet through the provision of clear and practical dietary guidance
  • To consider the diverse nutritional and other health needs of different groups when developing food policy

We have a number of policies that are aimed at improving the diet of people in Scotland: improvements in diet lead to improvements in overall physical and mental wellbeing.

We want to support people to eat well and have a healthy weight. The 2018 Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan sets out the main areas of focus for improving the Scottish diet and improving levels of healthy weight. The plan aims to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and significantly reduce diet-related health inequalities. Improving the population’s levels of healthy weight will also contribute to reducing the incidence of diseases that are linked to poor diet and higher weight, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

The Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan also sets out action to work with local areas and their partners to develop and champion a whole systems approach to diet and weight. A Whole Systems Approach to diet and healthy weight remains the strongest evidence-based route to improving levels of healthy weight, particularly in children. This will require action by local government and partnerships across the system. An evaluation of the pilots was published by Public Health Scotland, and a description of the whole systems work undertaken by Early Adopter Areas in Scotland was published by Obesity Action Scotland as national coordinator of the pilots. These reports are informing our next phase of developing resources to support national rollout.

The Scottish Dietary Goals (SDGs) and Eatwell Guide set out the basis for the diet that we would like the people of Scotland to follow at a population level. The nutritional requirements of population sub-groups are taken into account when formulating diet policy. Progress and rationale for achieving the SDGs is set out in The Scottish Diet: It Needs To Change , published by Food Standards Scotland (FSS). FSS assesses the impact of policy against the Scottish Dietary Goals by monitoring national dietary purchase and consumption patterns on an ongoing basis.

To support consumers, FSS has developed a new dietary guidance resource for people living in Scotland – Eat Well Your Way. Eat Well, Your Way is based on the Eatwell Guide and provides practical support for consumers on how to achieve a healthier diet, considering the many social and environmental factors which affect an individual’s dietary intake.

Eat Well, Your Way also takes into consideration those shopping on a tight budget and provides some information on making more sustainable choices. It is also partly tailored to the individual users’ circumstances: for example whether they have experience in the kitchen and whether or not they have children. The resource is evidence-based[17] and the Eat Well Your Way – Making a Change guide encourages consumers to take small steps to make healthier food and drink choices.

Ensuring ready access to a healthy diet is an important aspect of reducing diet-related health issues. We know that there are diet-related health inequalities in Scotland’s population, and that these are exacerbated by poor diets. There are links between areas of disadvantage and access to nutritious foods. Areas which lack easy access to fresh nutritious foods are sometimes known as ‘food deserts’.

Supporting people to eat well and have a healthy weight includes reducing levels of undernutrition. We will develop a framework for the prevention and monitoring of malnutrition and dehydration: a working group is currently in the process of developing draft recommendations. The group is drawing on a range of sources, evidence, and networks to fully inform the recommendations and ensure that a suitable framework is developed.

It is also necessary to consider that diet can play an important role in managing the health of specific groups.

A healthy diet plays an important role over the course of women’s life through puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and post menopause. Diet can also be an important part of managing symptoms of health conditions that disproportionally, or only, affect women. Our Women’s Health Plan aims to address women’s health inequalities by raising awareness around women’s health; improving access to health care for women across their lives; and reducing inequalities in health outcomes for women and girls.

We also recognise that older people may have different nutritional needs and we encourage care homes to, where appropriate, provide a choice based food service to support the independence and individuality of adults in their care.

A healthy diet plays an important role in managing our mental as well as our physical wellbeing.

There are proven links between a healthy body and mental wellbeing. We reflect the importance of people looking after themselves by eating a healthy diet on the mental wellbeing website Mind to Mind | NHS inform. We will monitor how this service offer is received, and may offer more resources to encourage healthy eating in the future.

We must also acknowledge that some people are impacted by eating disorders and it is of great importance that they are able to access the right care and treatment. We are giving careful consideration to how policy interventions in other areas may impact on these people, to avoid unintentionally harming them.

We are currently implementing the National Review of Eating Disorder Services which published its recommendations in 2021. These recommendations aim to ensure that those impacted by an eating disorder can access the right care and treatment, and that they are supported to live fulfilling lives both mentally and physically. This includes developing wider public health strategies to raise awareness of eating disorders to reduce stigma and improve support.

Public Health Scotland launched a Challenging Weight Stigma Learning hub in June 2022. This learning hub helps raise awareness of the impact weight stigma can have on individuals and the actions we can all take to reduce this. The learning hub is free and available to all.

Growing Your Own Food in a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To encourage and empower people to grow their own food
  • To make more land available for community growing and to enable more people to access growing sites and allotments

We want the people of Scotland to be active participants in building and maintaining a Good Food Nation. Encouraging and empowering people to grow their own food and participate in community food initiatives can have a range of positive impacts on mental and physical wellbeing as well as building a sense of community.

The Scottish Government, in partnership with Public Health Scotland, supports regional community food networks to help local food growing projects thrive, helping them to make connections to schools and businesses. Projects tend to work with marginalised groups such as young people; people with a disability; families living on a budget; and minority ethnic groups.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 – Part 9 (allotments) places statutory duties on local authorities to take reasonable steps to provide allotments and manage waiting lists. It also creates a number of duties around the wider management of allotment sites. These include the publication of food growing strategies and annual allotment plans.

We aim to make more land available for community growing in all its forms and enable more people to access allotments and growing sites. The NPF4 is clear that local development plans should create healthier places, including opportunities for food growing and allotments. Development proposals that will have positive effects on health will be supported: for example where they incorporate opportunities for community food growing or allotments.

These activities will help people who would like to have the opportunity to grow produce to access those opportunities more easily.

The wider impacts of food choices

Key Points:

  • To support a reduction in food waste

Individual behaviours around food and dietary choices can and do have impacts that stretch beyond the individual. Food waste is an example of this. Food waste is a global problem: an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year. If food wastage were a country, it would be the third highest greenhouse gas emitter after the China and the USA.[18]

Scotland contributes to this problem. Food waste in Scotland accounted for 30% of household waste carbon impacts, based on the 2021 household waste Carbon Metric update. The 2013 food waste baseline revealed that 61% of food waste came from households and 39% of food waste came from businesses and non-business organisations. This meant that, as a nation, we also wasted the resources that went into producing, transporting and buying that food. When food waste ends up in landfill, it produces methane gas that is many times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. It also means that we are losing a potentially valuable resource that could be redistributed to humans, recycled as animal feeds, or even converted to fuel and energy.

Reducing food waste will decrease greenhouse gas emissions and help our climate. Furthermore, reducing food waste is one of the most important ways we can reduce the carbon impact of Scotland’s waste. To help inform our future approach to tackle food waste, we aim to publish a review of progress against our 2019 Food waste reduction action plan . The findings in the review will enable us to identify and prioritise future action in areas to deliver impactful food waste reduction results. Our revised approach will be set out in our forthcoming Circular Economy and Waste Route Map. In addition, we also work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s Courtauld 2030 forum to engage with the UK’s biggest food and drink businesses, and with other devolved administrations where we have access to best practice research and interventions on food waste reduction. These tools will help meet our food waste reduction targets.

In addition, the Scottish Government have made a #123 Food Loss and Waste Pledge for Climate Action, committing to embed food loss and waste considerations across relevant government policies and strategies.

We also support the redistribution of surplus food to prevent it being wasted. For example, we have previously contributed to funding FareShare to deliver their “surplus with purpose” programme to redistribute surplus food to community groups. In 2022/23, our funding contribution helped to deliver 856 tonnes of surplus food to community groups across the UK. This made the equivalent of just over 2 million meals UK-wide and over 310,000 meals in Scotland. Our work on redistributing food contributes to our ambitions of reducing our environmental impact by sending less food to landfill.

Providers and Places

Serving Food in a Good Food Nation

Providers are those who supply food to others in a variety of settings. They have an integral role to play in providing good food to the people of Scotland. They will continue to take active steps to improve their menus to offer healthy and sustainable options.

The Scottish Government are pursuing a range of policies that support and encourage the provision of safe, nutritious, affordable, sustainable, and age and culturally appropriate food in public and private settings.

These policies contribute towards strengthening the healthy eating habits of the people of Scotland.

Local Food for Everyone in a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To bring more local food into shops and food outlets

We are aiming to increase the consumption, production, and provision of local food. Our key document relating to local food is Local Food for Everyone. It brings together existing strands of work on local food via three pillars: Connecting people with food; Connecting Scottish producers with buyers; and Harnessing public sector procurement. These pillars outline the wide range of activities being undertaken by the Scottish Government and agencies relating to local food.

We are also updating Catering for Change, the guidance document which advises public sector catering managers on how to make sustainable procurement choices.

Since 2012 the Scottish Government has provided the funding for the Soil Association’s Food for Life Scotland programme (FFL). The programme aims to increase the amount of healthy, locally sourced food served by local authorities in schools: it currently operates in 17 Scottish local authorities. As well as aiming to put more local food on the table, the wider benefits include: educating young people about food and culture; reassuring parents and pupils that their school meals are responsibly sourced and freshly prepared by trained cooks; promoting fresh, local and seasonal food; ensuring that at least 75% is fresh and unprocessed; and improving pupils’ health by putting more fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and wholegrains on the menu. FFL compliant menus meet or exceed Scotland’s statutory food and nutrition standards for school meals. Supported by the Scottish Government, the Soil Association continue to proactively engage with unaccredited councils to support them towards gaining accreditation, as well as with existing award holders to support them in maintaining and upgrading their existing levels of accreditation.

A Scottish Government funded pilot expansion programme is currently underway in the Glasgow area to explore how the FFL approach can be expanded into other parts of the public sector such as care homes, leisure centres, and further and higher education settings. The pilot programme is now in its second year of operation and has seen extensive engagement across the public sector in Glasgow. As part of this pilot work, Baxter Storey gained silver level FFL accreditation for their catering sites in Scottish Government buildings, and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service in June 2023.

At a more local level we are providing ongoing support for the convenience sector through the Scottish Grocers’ Federation’s Go Local programme – bringing more and more local produce onto the shelves of stores and shops right in the very heart of Scotland’s communities.

We support initiatives such as Geographical Indication for specific foods. In addition, we provide funding for Scotland Loves Local programme, the Regional Food Fund , and support for Regional Food Groups.

Scotland Food and Drink are leading on the development of a new branding campaign to showcase Scottish produce and products. This campaign is all about showcasing the joy that’s found in Scottish produce and products. That joy lies in the people, place, and provenance behind our incredible food and drink. It will highlight stories of sustainability and show our beautiful landscape and clean waters.

Public Procurement in a Good Food Nation

Snapshot Box: As a public caterer in a Good Food Nation

  • I procure healthy, fresh, in-season, and nutritious food to meet the needs of the people using my services
  • I recognise the role that food can play in strengthening community ties. I promote and provide healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable options as the norm on my menus
  • My procurement choices help to support a variety of producers
  • I have reduced avoidable food waste as much as possible, and I ensure that unavoidable food waste is disposed of in a sustainable manner

Public procurement policy and legislation requires public bodies to consider and act on opportunities for small or medium enterprises (SMEs), the third sector, and supported businesses to access contracting opportunities.

International trade obligations prohibit activities that would discriminate between suppliers on grounds of nationality or locality, or which would result in unequal treatment of suppliers.

For procurement contracts related to food, public bodies are required to provide a statement that outlines how food provision may improve the health, wellbeing, and education of communities in the authority’s area and promote the highest standard of animal welfare.

The Scottish Government is using its legislation and policies to maximise the impact procurement can have for public bodies, suppliers and local suppliers and the Scottish economy. To promote local and sustainable produce public bodies have the flexibility to:

  • Design menus that include Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) food
  • Specify food produced according to recognised assurance schemes, e.g. Quality Meat Scotland, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Red Tractor, RSPCA, or equivalent bespoke company systems
  • Specify free range and organic food
  • Specify requirements based on menu plans that are based on freshness, high nutritional value using food in season and flexible and frequent delivery times
  • Divide contracts into small product lots and geographic areas to encourage the active participation of local businesses where it is proportionate to do so
  • Introduce a facility on some frameworks to enable small manufacturers who do not have national delivery logistics in place to bid on a supply only basis
  • Introduce a secondary price list within tenders to allow framework suppliers the choice to offer Scottish produce
Institutionalising Good Food

Key Points:

  • To provide nutritionally appropriate meals in Scotland’s schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons
Good Food in Schools

Adequate nutrition plays an important role in enabling children to learn effectively and enjoy their time in school. Local authorities in Scotland have a number of duties in relation to the provision of food and drink in schools: these are set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 , and monitored by Education Scotland Health and Nutrition Inspectors.

Local authorities are required to provide free school meals to eligible children and young people, and to protect the identity of anyone accessing free school meals to help avoid any associated stigma. They are committed to sustainable catering, and required to promote healthy choices.

The Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020 set the standards which are applied to all food and drink supplied in Scotland’s schools. These regulations are designed to ensure that children and young people are offered food and drink which contains an appropriate amount of energy and nutrients to support healthy growth and development.

The regulations say that children should have access to plenty of fruit and vegetables as part of their school day and limit the amount of sugar made available. They also bring the provision of red and red processed meat into line with advice set out in the Scottish Dietary Goals. Products typically high in sugar, salt, fat and saturated fat are now served less frequently and in smaller quantities.

Our guidance on Healthy Eating in Schools was published in 2020 and assists local authorities with implementing the regulations, and with providing balanced and nutritious menus.

Better Eating, Better Learning guidance (2014) supports schools and all stakeholders to work in partnership to make improvements in school food and food education.

Curriculum for Excellence provides children and young people with the opportunity to learn about food in its widest sense and how their food choices impact their health, the environment and the economy.

Good Food in Hospitals and Social Care Settings

Quality healthcare is about more than medicines and clinical diagnoses. The food served in health and social care settings plays an important part in the treatment of people who require care, whether on a temporary or a permanent basis. It is recognised that good nutritional care, adequate hydration and enjoyable mealtimes can dramatically improve the general health and well-being of patients and older people, as well as increasing their resistance to disease and their recovery from any illness, trauma or surgery.

The Health and Social Care Standards, which all social care services including hospitals and care homes are expected to follow, include standards on food and nutrition. As the regulator for social care services, the Care Inspectorate use the standards as a basis for inspection of services.

The standards emphasise the importance of healthy meals and snacks, including fresh fruit and vegetables; and choice based on personal preferences and cultural and dietary needs, and beliefs.

Healthcare settings in a Good Food Nation should also provide an exemplar for the food they serve to their staff and visitors, ensuring these offer quality, nutritious foods while considering their environmental impact. NHS Scotland sites are well placed to provide healthier food options since catering sites have years of embedded good practice from following the Healthy Living Award.[19] Retail sites are required to follow the Healthcare Retail Standard which ensures that 50% of all food and 70% of all drinks are healthier.

Good Food in Prisons

In a Good Food Nation, all institutions housing adults and young people must provide them with safe, nutritious, healthy and appropriate food. This also applies to prisons.

Food quality and service can influence the culture and quality of relationships within the establishment. The provision of a quality catering service in custody can contribute significantly not just to the physical wellbeing of prisoners but also to the smooth operation of the estate as a whole.

Exposure to a healthy diet can not only improve general health levels of prisoners whilst they remain in custody, it can also have a lasting effect on eating habits after release. Qualifications and experience gained by those working in catering settings whilst in custody can contribute to later employability prospects.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) recognises its responsibility to provide a balanced and nutritious diet to all those in its care as part of its overall strategy for health promotion. SPS works closely with NHS partners in Scotland to ensure that they provide the basic minimum nutritional requirements across all sites every day.

Food Standards Scotland produced Nutrient and Food Standards for the Scottish Prison Service in 2017. These standards ensure that the provision of food for the prisoner population meets target government recommendations: they are currently being implemented through the Health Improvement Nutrition Plan.

Good Food Out of the Home: eating out and purchasing food

Key Points:

  • To encourage and help food outlets to provide healthier options to customers eating out of the home to support achievement of the Scottish Dietary Goals
  • To encourage retail businesses to demonstrate a commitment to Fair Work principles
  • To support implementation of the National Planning Framework 4 approach to food outlets
  • To progress legislation to restrict promotions of food and drink that is high in fat, sugar or salt
  • To promote Scotland’s high-quality food and drink as part of our tourism and hospitality offer

Snapshot Box: As a retailer in a Good Food Nation

  • As an employer, I meet Fair Work First criteria. I ensure that all procurement contracts I enter into are fair and equitable for producers
  • I create a store environment that makes healthy and nutritious options affordable and appealing for everyone. I help consumers to better understand the nutritional quality and provenance of the food I sell
  • Decisions I make in store and through procurement help Scotland to achieve its net zero ambitions, for example by minimising food waste.
  • I play an important role in supporting a stronger local food economy and increasing food security in Scotland

Food businesses play a significant role in our economy as both providers of food and employers. Scotland’s Retail Strategy Getting the Right Change aims for a strong, profitable retail sector: food and drink retailers make up a significant part of the sector in Scotland. The Retail Strategy is supported by a Retail Industry Leadership Group which includes representatives of large supermarkets; smaller independent food retailers; and wholesalers. This group has been established to drive forward the actions in the Retail Strategy.

The Industry Leadership Group has committed to delivering a Fair Work Agreement which encourages retail businesses to demonstrate their commitment to Fair Work principles; and a skills audit and action plan for the sector. The Retail Strategy also commits to developing a Just Transition Plan for retail to guide the path to net zero.

Local retail can play a vital part in helping people to access a healthy diet. The local convenience store provides consumers with an important and easy way of purchasing fresh produce at an affordable price, in small quantities and often available right on the doorstep. The Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme was established in 2004 by the Scottish Government to encourage the sale of healthier options including fruit and vegetables through convenience stores in Scotland. More than two-thirds of the 2,400 strong Healthy Living Programme membership serves the most deprived areas of the country and ensures access to affordable, healthier food and drink in those communities.

Despite these initiatives, concerns remain about the types of food that are consumed out of the home and the impacts those foods have on our health. The National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) clearly supports enhanced visibility of healthy food within our communities through opportunities for food growing and areas where proposals for healthy food and drink outlets can be supported. NPF4 does not support proposals of non-retail uses such as hot food takeaways and permanently sited vans where further provision would undermine the health and wellbeing of communities, particularly in disadvantaged areas. In preparing local development plans that set out where and what types of development will be supported locally, use of the Place Standard Tool is encouraged to generate discussion about the assets of a place and areas where a place could improve.

Our 2021 Out Of Home Action Plan sets out a range of measures that we are taking forward in partnership with FSS and Public Health Scotland (PHS) to help outlets provide healthier options to people when eating out or ordering in. As part of this plan, FSS and PHS are developing a new Eating Out, Eating Well (EOEW) Framework. This voluntary framework for Out of Home food outlets will help outlets provide healthier foods to support achievement of Scottish Dietary Goals and includes a Code of Practice for Children’s Menus (COP). The EOEW framework and COP will be piloted in early 2024. Once launched, we aim to secure maximum take-up of the framework across the public sector.

A public consultation on proposals to mandate calorie labelling in Out Of Home settings concluded in 2022 and an analysis of the results was published on 30 May 2023.

We are committed to legislating to restrict the promotion of food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) where they are sold to the public. The policy aims to reduce the public health harms associated with the excess consumption of less healthy food and drink, including the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, various types of cancer and other conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Restricting promotions of HFSS food and drink will complement and form part of a wider suite of action already underway or planned to support healthier diets and healthy weight. In 2022, we consulted on proposals to further inform the evidence base and development of this policy considering the impact of the pandemic; action in other parts of the UK; EU exit; and cost of living pressures. An independent analysis report of consultation responses has been published. In line with a statutory requirement to consult on changes to food law, a further consultation is planned on the detail of proposed regulations with a view to laying regulations, subject to the outcome of the consultation.

Food is also a key part of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality offer. Tourism and hospitality should benefit every person who lives, visits and works in Scotland: we are seeking to make Scotland a world leader in 21st Century tourism. Our Tourism Strategy ‘Scotland Outlook 2030’ puts people and place at its heart. It acknowledges the importance of the businesses which deliver those authentic and memorable experiences our visitors seek. One way to retain that authenticity is through our wonderful food and drink offering.

Scotland Outlook 2030 is focused on four key priorities: Our passionate people; Our thriving places; Our diverse businesses; and Our memorable experiences. Each of these strands will enhance Scotland’s international reputation for high-quality food and a world-leading approach to food systems.

The industry-led Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan, sets out a range of actions to maximise the potential of two of Scotland’s most successful sectors – tourism and food and drink. The plan has been developed by Scotland Food & Drink and Scottish Tourism Alliance, who have come together to form a clear, strong and ambitious plan to capitalise on the opportunities that food tourism brings, with Scottish Government and its agencies working side by side.

Visitors to Scotland already spend around £1 billion a year on food and drink. The action plan aims to unlock the growth potential and secure an extra £1 billion spend on local food and drink.

Scottish agritourism has a long-term sustainable future that delivers a high-quality, authentic visitor experience with agriculture and food and drink at its core. A growing and thriving sector encourages more farms to add value to their businesses through agritourism. That will then give visitors and locals alike more opportunities to learn about and appreciate local food production. We are providing £443,000 of support to Scottish Enterprise to establish a new Agri-tourism Monitor Farm Programme over the 2023/24 and 2024/25 period. In addition, we have provided support of £35,000 to Scottish Agritourism to deliver activities like Regional Agritourism Roadshows, engaging with Local Authorities and developing bookable online experiences involving food and drink.

Snapshot Box: As a restaurant owner in a Good Food Nation

  • I celebrate fresh, seasonal produce and integrate it into my menu. I have an active role in supporting my local food economy
  • I share my passion for good food with my customers so that they become more informed about its provenance, how it’s prepared and its nutritional value
  • As an employer, I meet Fair Work First criteria. I create a rewarding work environment for my employees
  • I am creative with my menu. This can help me to minimise food waste for the benefit of my business, people, and the environment
Reducing Waste in a Good Food Nation

Key Points:

  • To support a reduction in food waste by businesses and manufacturers

Reducing food waste in Scotland is a key target for the Scottish Government. The 2013 food waste baseline revealed that 61% of food waste came from households and 39% of food waste came from businesses and non-business organisations.

We initially published a food waste reduction action plan in 2019 to target this. We are currently reviewing our approach and will work with key stakeholders across businesses and manufacturers to ensure we are targeting the most high-value areas that will deliver impactful results. To complement this, our forthcoming circular economy and waste route map will help to accelerate progress in food waste reduction. Our proposals were set out in the route map consultation and were generally well-received by respondents.

Businesses and producers have a role to play in reducing food waste. Currently, there is no requirement for UK food businesses to report their food waste and surplus. This leads to a gap in the data and reduces accuracy in our understanding of the real impacts from food waste.

To improve our understanding across Scotland, we recently introduced a Circular Economy Bill to the Scottish Parliament. This included provisions for Scottish Ministers to have powers to require mandatory public reporting of unwanted surplus stock and waste of certain materials by Scottish businesses. The aim is to build greater transparency and accountability for food waste, plus to provide important new information to inform further policies to reduce food waste.

Farmers, Food Producers and Processors

Food production and processing in a Good Food Nation

High-quality, nutritious food which is locally and sustainably produced is key to our wellbeing – in economic, environmental, social and health terms. Producers and processors are those involved in growing, rearing, catching, harvesting, manufacturing, and processing our food. In a Good Food Nation, they will take an active role in contributing to a sustainable food system. Their choices will have a positive to neutral impact on the environment and biodiversity. Their actions will help to mitigate climate change and they will have adapted to any existing and future changes. Their produce will form an important part of food consumed across Scotland and it will be easy to find Scottish produce in restaurants, canteens and shops. Scottish products will continue to have an international reputation for excellence and quality. Scottish producers will be visible in their communities and provide welcoming places of employment. Jobs in the Scottish food and drink production sectors will operate to fair work standards.

We have a range of transformative programmes under way that will inherently change how we produce and process food in Scotland: we are on a pathway to make all our food production activities on land and sea more sustainable.

The Land

Key Points:

  • To transform support for farming and food production and position Scotland as a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture
  • To increase levels of organically managed land
  • To support and encourage crofting, small scale farming and vertical farming
  • To have a support framework that delivers high-quality food production, climate mitigation and adaptation, and nature restoration

Snapshot Box: As a farmer/crofter in a Good Food Nation

  • I feel that my work is respected and that I am able to get a fair price for my produce. I can easily sell my produce locally should I wish to do so
  • My farming and land management practices reduce my environmental impact, increase biodiversity and ensure high animal welfare standards on my farm or croft
  • I benefit from a variety of support, including training and advice, to help me run a successful and sustainable farm or croft
  • I help to build resilient supply chains and contribute to food security in Scotland
Agricultural Policy and Climate

We firmly believe there is no contradiction between high-quality food production and producing it in a way that delivers for climate and nature.

The Scottish Government fully supports our agriculture sector, as Scottish produce, plays an important part in our lives – both culturally and in terms of nutrition. We also value Scotland’s agriculture sector for their part in cutting emissions and addressing climate change in ways that actively benefit both the climate and nature. Many of our farmers and crofters are already taking positive action to produce food sustainably and help mitigate climate change.

There is a close link between climate change, the food we produce and the food we eat, and food production is likely to be impacted by changes in our climate. Farming actions will be crucial in contributing to meet Scotland’s regulatory emissions reduction targets in a way that is just and fair, capturing the economic and social benefits of a net zero economy. So, we must continue to support and invest in our farmers and crofters going forward, to produce high-quality food, yet combine this with high environmental standards, especially to meet our climate change targets.

Our Vision for Agriculture, published in March 2022, outlines our aim to transform how we support farming and food production to make Scotland a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. To enable the delivery of the Vision for Agriculture, the Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill was introduced to Parliament in 2023. It is a significant milestone in reforming our agricultural and wider rural support systems. The Bill aims to provide Scotland with a future framework that will support farmers and crofters to meet more of our food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature and will assist in efforts to meet our climate change targets. Scotland's farmers, crofters and land managers are vital to our ambition to make our nation fairer and greener, and to enable us to produce more of our own food more sustainably. The Bill will be the platform for measures focused on: high-quality food production; climate mitigation and adaptation; nature restoration; and wider rural development.

We want to ensure that Scotland operates to the highest environmental standards, and that we protect the strengths of Scottish agriculture, land management and sustainable food production. Our Preparing for Sustainable Farming initiative launched in 2022 supports farmers in their transition to more sustainable farming. This three-year programme makes funding available to encourage on-farm carbon audit, soil sampling and, for livestock keepers, animal health and welfare interventions. While the Agricultural Reform Programme will transform agriculture support policy in Scotland. So, from 2025, support payments will be linked to the contribution farmers and crofters make in delivering our climate and nature objectives, while continuing to produce high-quality food. To deliver this, we are working with our rural partners to co-produce and co-develop our future support structures and their delivery.

Scottish Ministers remain clear in their commitment to invest in and support our farmers and crofters to produce our food more sustainably. We will continue to encourage the uptake of low carbon farming practices by offering financial support, providing practical advice and guidance, offering skill development opportunities, and demonstrating the climate and business benefits of adapting and taking action through initiatives, such as the Farm Advisory Service, the Agricultural Transformation Fund, and the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund. This will ensure that agriculture has the tools, skills, and knowledge to adapt to meet future challenges and opportunities.

We recognise that sheep and cattle farming contributes a significant proportion of Scottish agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and we are focussed on making the sectors as efficient as possible, i.e. to reduce the Green House Gas emissions per kg of output. Healthy livestock are more efficient as they are more productive, require less veterinary intervention and have better welfare than their under-performing counterparts. They also require less antibiotic treatment, and so aid the global effort to combat antimicrobial resistance. We already support the beef and dairy sectors through Scotland’s Officially Tuberculosis (TB) Free status and the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication scheme. Work with the sheep sector includes pilot projects to tackle sheep scab, which is already underway, and to promote Ovine Pulmonary Adenomatosis (OPA) diagnosis. These diseases are globally common and reduce livestock productivity, health, and welfare. By tackling them, we help our national flock and herd to be as efficient as possible.

We know that veterinary expertise is an essential element of sustainable and regenerative farming, both in keeping livestock healthy on farm and protecting public health at abattoirs and meat cutting plants. We continue to support farm vets through funding the Veterinary Advisory Service, which delivers diagnostic services and advice to vets. We also fund the Highlands and Islands Veterinary Services Scheme that supports rural practices to keep vet costs affordable for farm clients. In addition, we support Scotland’s farm vets by funding Official Veterinarian training, which allows vets to carry out statutory work on farm such as TB testing and brucellosis investigations. These are essential activities to maintain Scotland’s international disease status and maintain our healthy food supply.

Good livestock welfare is a prerequisite for sustainable and regenerative farming as well as a public good. We continue to support all livestock sectors in striving for high welfare standards.

It’s therefore important that we will continue to work together to support our farmers, crofters, producers, and the supply chain to meet our environmental goals including our requirements under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. We will continue to promote our positive vision for Scottish food production - one in which our world-class producers thrive and contribute to our world-leading climate change agenda and respond to the biodiversity crisis by delivering sustainable regenerative agriculture.

In doing this, Scotland’s food production sector can be confident in its world-leading environmental credentials and enhance the reputation we have for high-quality food both here and abroad.

Some of these actions will also aid in the reduction of food loss, which is the decrease of quantity and quality of food at the primary production stage. In Scotland we want to produce more of our own food more sustainably, in line with our Vision for Agriculture and Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture, that seek to make sure that more of the local food that is produced by our farmers, fishers, and crofts is eaten – for the benefit of the businesses, consumers and the environment, and that wastes are incorporated into the circular economy where possible. Measures being developed as part of the Agricultural Reform Programme will help do this by increasing the efficiency and sustainability of the sector therefore increasing profitability at the same time. Relevant outcome themes in the Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture include Climate Change and Circular Economy; Community; and Productivity, Supply Chain, and Infrastructure.

Land Reform

Scotland's land is a precious national resource that is fundamental to our economy, our environment, our wellbeing, and our just transition to net zero. The Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement articulates our vision for the ownership, use and management of land, and is clear that all land should support sustainable economic development, protect, and enhance the environment, support a just transition to net zero, help achieve social justice and build a fairer society for the common good.

We are committed to introducing Land Reform legislation to further improve transparency of land ownership, help ensure large scale land holdings deliver in the public interest and empower communities by providing more opportunities to own land and have more say in how land in their area is used. Tenant farmers are hugely important to farming and food production in Scotland. We want them to play a key role in delivering our Vision for Agriculture, and, through the Land Reform Bill, we are committed to modernising Agricultural Holdings legislation.

Nature-friendly Farming

The evidence is clear that land use is one of the major drivers of global biodiversity loss, and Scotland is no exception. Over the past 50 years, the conversion of natural ecosystems for crop production or pasture has been the principal cause of habitat loss, with half of all habitable land on earth used for agriculture. Under business-as-usual trajectories, it has been projected that 87.7% of species (17,409 species) would lose some habitat by 2050.[20]

In line with the Vision for Agriculture, we will have a support framework that delivers for nature restoration, along with high-quality food production, climate mitigation and adaptation. We are therefore keen to promote and encourage farming and land management that support a range of species and habitats whilst also providing a natural balance between food production and the environment.

To support the Vision for Agriculture, mechanisms such as the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme support land managers to take action to increase biodiversity, improve soils, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and support the conversion to, and management of, organic land. The foundations of a Whole Farm Plan, including soil testing, animal health and welfare declaration, carbon audits, biodiversity audits and supported business planning, and the Farming with Nature Programme support positive management for climate and biodiversity, and collaborative action across landholdings at a field, farm, and landscape level. These will enable nature-friendly and regenerative farming practices that deliver high-quality food production and support our thriving green economy, whilst ensuring a nature positive, climate resilient Scotland and deliver sustainable regenerative agriculture.

Programme for Government 2021-22 commits the Scottish Government to supporting the increase of organically managed land, with an ambition to double the area by 2026. In addition, the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party commits to supporting the sector to develop an Organic Food and Farming Action Plan.

The Vision for Agriculture seeks to work alongside farmers, crofters and land managers to ensure they have the right support to contribute to the restoration of nature through biodiversity gain on the land they farm, taking a whole farm approach to reducing emissions and environmental impact. Central to this will be support to identify and develop the skills needed for regenerative and sustainable farming, and encouraging co-operative approaches to optimise collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Supporting different approaches to producing and selling food

In Scotland we are privileged to see a wide variety of food producers, such as those directly connecting the farmer with the local community, giving consumers access to local and fresh food whilst reducing the environmental impact by shortening supply chains.

The Scottish Government also supports crofting. Crofting is recognised as a low-intensity high nature value form of land management that is unique to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. We published the National Development Plan for Crofting (NDPC) in March 2021, which highlights the core elements necessary to ensure that crofting remains at the heart of our rural and island communities. The Plan encourages crofters to work collaboratively to develop their businesses, share knowledge, access new markets, and connect with others in the food and drink sector.

One of the priorities in the NDPC is to work with stakeholders to connect crofters with local food networks and Regional Food Groups. Officials are working with the Scottish Crofting Federation and the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) to develop a crofting food network and crofting brand. This will enable crofters to tap into local food networks, help reduce food miles, and contribute to food security in our rural and island areas.

We have also appointed SAOS to facilitate the creation of a Small Producers Pilot Fund. The fund will enable small producers to contribute to delivering the Scottish Government’s Vision for Agriculture and Local Food for Everyone.

In Programme for Government 2021-22 the Scottish Government committed to explore support for vertical farming. Vertical farms could reduce the carbon footprint when compared with conventional farming due to their potential use of renewable electricity for power. Vertical farms also require less land than conventional farming. Additionally, the closed environment means that vertical farms can operate without pesticides which is beneficial for biodiversity. Scottish technology in the vertical farm sector is exported internationally and provides skilled jobs. To further explore the possibilities of vertical farming, we have provided direct grant funding towards a vertical farm to be built at the Edinburgh campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Sector-specific support

We are considering ways in which support for specific sectors can promote increased sustainability in the Scottish food system. For example, we provide a platform of support to the venison sector within the wider ambition of growth in Scotland’s food and drink sector. Venison is a quality Scottish product, high in protein and low in fat, which is suitable both for export and for the domestic market. We have ongoing engagement with the industry to understand how we can best support growth.

The Scottish Government maintains continued involvement in the development and implementation of sector-specific plans for livestock products, including the amendment or the introduction of any necessary legislative requirements. We work with counterparts in the other UK administrations on frameworks to support livestock farmers and we provide support to a range of industry-led strategies and action plans.

The Scottish Government also provides specific support to the fruit and veg sector and has allocated up to £6 million over the next two years (until the end of 2025) to extend support provided by the Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme. The Scheme enables groups of growers, recognised as Producer Organisations (POs), to achieve a better position in the marketplace. Funding can be used for a wide variety of actions including the employment of specialist staff, large capital investments such as improvements to packhouses and actions to reduce environmental impacts.

Food labelling

Many consumers take an interest in where their food comes from and there are a range of obligations placed on food businesses to help consumers make an informed choice.

There are general food labelling provisions set out in retained EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC) and in The Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2014. These include general requirements on country of origin information as well as the provision of mandatory general information such as: the name of the food; ingredients lists (including allergen information); use by dates; nutrition declarations covering the energy content of food; and the levels of nutrients.

There are also a variety of labelling schemes that are designed to give consumers specific information about the provenance of the products they are purchasing. For example, food, drink and agricultural products with a geographical connection or that are made using traditional methods can be registered and protected as intellectual property. This protection is called a geographical indication (GI). GI protection guarantees a product’s characteristics or reputation, authenticity and origin. It protects the product name from issue or imitation. Scotland currently holds 15 Protected Food Names (PFNs) which by volume and value include some of the largest PFNs in the EU, in particular high value products such as Scotch Beef and Scottish Farmed Salmon, account for around £700 million ex-farm sales.

Beef and lamb can also be registered through the Quality Meat Scotland Protected Geographic Indication Scotch assurance scheme and labelled accordingly. In addition, Quality Meat Scotland also have a scheme for specially selected pork. To be Scotch assured livestock, livestock must have been born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland and spent their entire life on Assured holdings. The assurance scheme covers the full supply chain including producers, haulage, auction marts and processors. This provides reassurance to consumers of provenance, highest standards of production, and animal welfare and wellbeing.

The Scottish Government also aligns with European Community (EC) wide beef labelling regulations. They are intended to provide buyers with clear, reliable information about beef (including veal) on sale. A key requirement is that it should enable beef on sale to be traced back to where it originated. The Scottish Government ensures traceability for livestock across Scotland using the ScotEID database, which is administered by the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS). Working with industry to capture and record data on identification, registration, and movement of livestock is essential for protecting both animal and public health.

In relation to eggs, the EU are in the process of making changes to the marketing standards around the sale of free range eggs. This would remove the 16 week derogation where an avian influenza housing order has been in place and allow to label these eggs as free range during this period. We are working with Defra and the Welsh Government on a consultation to align with the EU proposals.

The 2021 SNP manifesto committed to move to free range, woodland or barn chicken and egg production. In 2023 there was a further commitment to consult on phasing out cage production for laying hens and gamebirds and there is ongoing work in relation to this commitment.

Food labelling also has implications for trade. The Retail Movement Scheme set up under the Windsor Framework will require sending certain food and drink to Northern Ireland to comply with the terms of trade that have been agreed under the Windsor Framework. This is being phased in from October 2023. In particular “Not for EU” labelling will apply for certain goods moved under the Scheme. However, the UK Government have also proposed that, from October 2024, the same “Not for EU” labelling should apply across the UK as a whole, rather than just where required under the terms of the Windsor Framework. As this is a wholly devolved matter, Scottish Ministers will determine whether or not this policy should extend to Scotland. Currently we have serious concerns about the impact on business as we are aware that many stakeholders have significant concerns about the practical implications of this proposal. We will continue to raise our concerns with the UK Government, but in the absence of evidence or impact assessments supporting this policy, Scottish Ministers are currently opposed to it.

Supply Chain Fairness Reviews

The Scottish Government supports Scotland’s meat, dairy and food processing sectors through engagement with a broad range of stakeholders and a variety of activities.

We are working closely with the UK Government and other devolved administrations in order to bring about changes to ensure fairness in both the dairy and pig industries, and more recently on the egg supply chain. Following a call for evidence and consultation, the UK Government is working towards legislating to introduce a statutory code of conduct underpinning all contracts between dairy farmers and processors. This would aim to ensure that the price paid for milk produced by the farmer is formally agreed and that contract negotiations take place in a clear and transparent way.

A similar process is being followed for the pig industry. Following a recent consultation and call for evidence, a summary of responses has now been published, and we are considering how to proceed.

Administrations are also working towards introducing mandatory sheep carcase classification across the UK (similar to that already in place for beef) which would ensure that classification of the carcasses is carried out consistently and in line with EU requirements.

A Review of the Scottish Dairy Industry, Ambition 2025 looked at the efficiency and competitiveness of the Scottish supply chain, assessed opportunities for greater collaboration among primary producers and explored the potential for Scottish market development and brand support. One of the recommendations was to set up the Scottish Dairy Growth Board which, supported by the Scottish Government, works with businesses to increase their market penetration and expand the reach of our dairy sector to establish new markets abroad. The Scottish Government also supports the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) to deliver the Scottish Dairy Hub, a sign-posting service and helpline for dairy farmers on a wide range of topics.

Agricultural Wages

The UK Government abolished the England & Wales Agricultural Wages Board in June 2013 following the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 . The Scottish Government retained the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB) which is an autonomous body established under the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949. The SAWB is responsible for producing Agricultural Wages Orders, which contain the legal requirements for the calculation of minimum pay, holiday entitlement and other conditions of service for agricultural workers. This ensures agricultural workers are treated fairly and provides them with a voice within the wages and conditions of service negotiation structure not available to their counterparts in England.

The Seas

Key Points:

  • To ensure that our fisheries and seafood sector is a sustainable part of our economy

Snapshot Box: As a fisher in a Good Food Nation

  • I feel that my work is respected and that I am able to get a fair price for my catch
  • I support the marine environment and ecosystem with sustainable fishing practices
  • I benefit from and enable a fair and safe working environment
  • I seek opportunities to bring my product to a wider market in Scotland, and to promote its contribution to a healthy diet
  • I can access a variety of support to help me to run a sustainable fishing business

Scotland is a major fishing nation in the north-east Atlantic: we are renowned for the quality of our seafood and for how we manage our fisheries in partnership at an international level. We play a full and key role in supporting and delivering international fisheries management.

Our Vision for a Blue Economy is that by 2045 Scotland’s shared stewardship of our marine environment supports ecosystem health, improved livelihoods, economic prosperity, social inclusion and wellbeing.

To ensure that our fisheries are in line with this vision we have set out our Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030 (FFM Strategy). This strategy forms one of the cornerstones of the Blue Economy approach: it sets out a vision for Scotland as a world class fishing nation delivering responsible and sustainable fisheries management which provides access to a high protein, low carbon food.

Sustainability, support for biodiversity and consideration of the wider ecosystem is at the heart of how we manage Scotland’s fisheries and protect our marine environment. We will work with our partners and our scientists to secure a robust evidence base and develop a firm plan to set out direct actions to address climate change.

The 12 point action plan contained within the FFM strategy includes the introduction of a new catching policy; adopting the principles of ecosystem-based management; and enhancing vessel tracking and monitoring. These actions will improve accountability and confidence in our seafood products; help to gather scientific data; and improve management in our waters.

We want to support the jobs and livelihoods which depend on our marine ecosystems, while also promoting fair work and opportunities for new entrants to the sector. We will support delivery of a strong relationship between the fishing industry and local communities, with strengthened links to local supply chains; support for consumers to buy local products; and recognising the importance of inward migration for rural and coastal communities.

Our ambitions for aquaculture (farming of fish, shellfish, and seaweed) sit alongside our ambitions for sustainable fisheries. Aquaculture is an increasingly important industry for Scotland: it helps to sustain economic growth in the rural and island communities of the north and west, and produces nutritious food, with a greenhouse gas emissions profile that is lower than many other farmed sources of animal protein. Farmed Atlantic salmon is the UK’s most valuable food export.

We recently published our Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture which sets out our long-term aspirations for the finfish, shellfish and seaweed farming sectors. The nine point Vision will outline our support for the sustainable development of a sector that produces high-quality healthy foods and delivers significant economic benefits to Scotland. The Scottish Government supports the development of a sustainable aquaculture sector, operating within environmental limits, and recognises the considerable social and economic benefits the sector delivers today and can deliver in the future.

Animal Welfare and Plant Health

Key Points:

  • To maintain and increase our high standards of animal welfare and plant health

High standards of animal welfare are an essential part of the Good Food Nation. Scotland already has high standards of animal welfare: these provide the ‘social licence’ for us to produce animals for consumption now and in the future. Welfare and wellbeing go beyond just physical health and the importance of this must be recognised to ensure social acceptability and sustainability for the future.

The Scottish Government is committed to continuous improvement in animal welfare: a statutory review into animal welfare legislation is due to be published in 2025. We will consult on phasing out the use of cages for gamebirds and laying hens and plan to work with other UK administrations to ban export of livestock for slaughter or fattening. We intend to align with possible future EU developments in animal welfare labelling as far as practicable.

We are also fully aware of the importance of plant health. Safeguarding plant health is vital to protect and support Scotland’s rural economy, including the agriculture and horticulture sectors. Plant health underpins the development of the economic potential of the Scottish agriculture; horticulture; rural land use; and food and drink sectors. There are increasing risks to plant health from the globalisation of trade and the consequent threat of introduction of new pests and invasive non-native species, as well as climate change. Government and industry must work in partnership to support a biosecure plant supply chain. Implementation of effective plant health controls helps to protect Scotland’s economic and environmental resources and supports initiatives to develop new and maintain existing markets for Scottish plants and plant products. Details of our work on this are set out in the Scottish Plant Health Strategy and the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain.

Snapshot Box: As a food processor in a Good Food Nation

  • I work with producers, wholesalers, retailers and out of home food providers to ensure resilience along the whole supply chain while meeting demand and minimising waste
  • I make my products healthier and more sustainable, using fresh, seasonal ingredients where possible, and can access support to do this.
  • I invest in and develop my workforce, ensuring they can enjoy opportunities to enhance their skills whilst benefiting from a safe working environment
  • I contribute to the important role that the food and drink sector has in Scotland’s economy
Supporting Scotland’s Food and Drink Industry

Key Points:

To support and champion Scotland’s food and drink industry

The food and drink industry is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy: over 17,000 businesses employ 129,000 people, many in economically fragile rural and island communities. The sector generates turnover of around £15 billion per annum, and exports of Scottish food and drink were valued at £8.1 billion in 2022.

Scotland Food & Drink is a partnership of industry and the public sector which nurtures, supports and champions the people and products of Scotland’s food and drink industry. Our long-standing support for this partnership helps to ensure that food and drink producers have the resilience, capability and capacity to put food on shelves for consumers.

We also provide specific support to Scottish Development International (SDI) to deliver the work of the Scotland Food & Drink Export Plan. This plan helps to enhance reputation of our natural larder, and to sustain and create markets for Scottish produce abroad.

We provided £15 million of support to the Food and Drink sector’s own Recovery plan. The plan sought to mitigate and reverse damage caused by both the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit through market facing and business interventions. It also considered how the recovery period could be best used to accelerate change in the industry and prepare it for the challenges posed by Brexit.

Moving forward, we are providing £5 million support in Year 1 for the new Food and Drink Industry Strategy. Sustaining Scotland. Supplying the World builds on the sector’s strengths: it acknowledges current and future trends but also challenges faced across the sector. The strategy sets out a vision whereby Scotland is the best place in the world to own, operate, and work for a food and drink business. It has aims for the country to be renowned as a world leader in sustainable production and responsible growth, where resilient businesses across the supply chain flourish and prosper. There will be a focus on ensuring businesses compete successfully in our three key markets: Scotland, the rest of the UK and International. The strategy also contains three missions to sharpen businesses’ competitive edge in these markets: building resilience; driving responsible growth; and leading the way in environmental sustainability. Businesses will have access to the expertise they need to meet net zero and other environmental targets. There is also a commitment in the strategy to address wider sustainability issues such as biodiversity, water, and soil health.


We provide a platform of support for manufacturers within the wider ambition of growth in Scotland’s food and drink sector. We do this through ongoing engagement with industry to understand and seek to respond, where possible, to the challenges they face. Skills Development Scotland and the Scotland Food & Drink Skills Advisory Group have developed an implementation plan that seeks to address the skills challenges that currently face the food and drink sector.

We encourage the use of local Scottish produce as inputs, by providing funding for an education programme to help businesses explore routes to market and encourage wholesalers to list local produce in collaboration with Scotland Food and Drink, the Scottish Wholesale Association and Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS).

With a growing market for healthier products, it makes commercial sense to support Scottish business to innovate and reformulate. The reformulation agenda provides commercial, reputational and public health benefits that together contribute to Scotland being a Good Food Nation.

A dedicated Reformulation Connector has been embedded within Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland as part of the Scottish Government funded Reformulation For Health Programme to link companies to existing support. Support is free and available for small and medium sized business and both FDF members and non-members.

Also part of the Programme is the Reformul8 Challenge Fund which has helped 45 organisations reformulate various products ranging from crisps to cakes and a Reformul8 toolkit which offers webinars and podcasts. The aim of the programme is to focus on stores within areas of deprivation as well as meeting the dietary objectives set by the Scottish Government.

We work with the alcohol industry to support its sustainable growth, recognising the importance – particularly of the whisky sector – to the Scottish economy. We do this through ongoing engagement with industry to understand, and where appropriate respond to, the challenges they face. We also work to ensure appropriate involvement of the sector in wider Scottish Government policy work.

The alcohol sector provides jobs and investment both at home and abroad, with Scotch Whisky being our leading food and drink export. It is a major employer, employing more than 11,000 people directly in Scotland, including 7,000 jobs in rural areas.

In January 2021, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) launched its new Sustainability Strategy which commits the sector to reaching net zero emissions in its operations by 2040 and to reducing dramatically the environmental impact of Scotland’s national drink in other areas. Ministers have asked the SWA to share their knowledge and experience in areas like sustainability for the benefit of the wider economy.


The national Good Food Nation Plan forms just one part of a wider body of Scottish Government policy: it must be considered in the context of other cross-policy strategies, plans and programmes that are both underway and forthcoming. The Good Food Nation Plan has been influenced by existing policy programmes, many of which have interlinked and overlapping ambitions about the future of Scotland. In turn, the six Good Food Nation Outcomes will influence the direction of future work, as policymakers and Ministers seek to ensure that food-related policy plans are developed in line with these Outcomes.

In this section, we will explore the policymaking environment that surrounds the formulation of this first national Good Food Nation Plan.

Human Rights

All human beings are entitled to basic rights and freedoms. We protect, respect and fulfil internationally recognised human rights and want to create an inclusive Scotland. The right to adequate food is an integral part of the overall human right to an adequate standard of living, and essential to the realisation of other human rights.

The right to adequate food can only be fully guaranteed by addressing the accessibility; availability; acceptability; and quality of food in an integrated and systemic manner, and by recognising the indivisible and interdependent and interrelated nature of all human rights which are underpinned by dignity.

The international formation of the right to adequate food includes[21]:

  • Accessibility:
    • Food should be physically accessible for all, including individuals who live in very rural areas; and individuals who are physically vulnerable (such as children, the sick, disabled people, or older people)
    • Food should be economically accessible for all. Everyone should be able to afford food for an adequate diet without compromising on any other basic needs such as medicines or rent
  • Adequacy:
    • Food should be culturally acceptable
    • Food must satisfy dietary needs, taking into account the individual’s age, living conditions, health, occupation etc.
    • Food should be safe for human consumption
  • Availability:
    • Food should be available from natural resources, either through the production of food by cultivating land or animal husbandry, or through other ways of obtaining food (such as fishing, hunting, or gathering)
    • Food should be available for sale in markets and shops
    • Food should be available for future generations through sustainable production, considering factors such as the impact of possible climate change

Recognition of the importance of human rights forms part of the legislation that underpins this plan. Section 5 of the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act 2022 stipulates that in preparing this plan, Ministers must have regard to several international human rights instruments, listed below:

  • (a) Article 11 (so far as it concerns adequate food) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • (b) Article 24(2)(c) (so far as it concerns the provision of adequate nutritious foods) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • (c) Articles 27(1) and (3) (so far as they concern nutrition) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • (d) Article 12(2) (so far as it as concerns adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

These instruments are reflected in a number of the policies discussed in the previous sections. They have also been considered when developing the six Good Food Nation Outcomes. These links are illustrated by Table 1 on page 11.

The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a new Human Rights Bill in the current Parliamentary session. This Bill will incorporate four UN human rights treaties into Scots Law within the limits of devolved competence. This includes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which contains a right to adequate food as part of the overall right to an adequate standard of living. The Bill will strengthen domestic legal protections by making these rights enforceable in Scots law. A consultation on the policy proposals for the Human Rights Bill was published on the Scottish Government website on 15 June 2023: it closed in October 2023.

Climate Change; Biodiversity; the Road to Net Zero; and a Just Transition

It is impossible to separate any discussion of food and food systems from ongoing work to transition Scotland to net zero emissions. Policymakers must consider the environmental impact of any food-related policy development.

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 commits the Scottish Government to ambitious targets to mitigate climate change. These include a 75% reduction in emissions (from a 1990 baseline) by 2030 and net zero by 2045.

Work is underway to develop a draft of the next Climate Change Plan, with a final plan being published by March 2025. This will include policies and proposals to ensure that the agriculture and wider land use; land use change; waste; and forestry sectors reduce their emissions in line with our net zero national target. We are also developing the next Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme for publication in 2024: this will set out a range of actions that can further build our agriculture and wider land use; land use change; and forestry sector’s resilience to climate change.

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 embeds the principles of a just transition. This means as we reduce our emissions and respond to a changing climate, our journey is fair and creates a better future for everyone – regardless of where they live, what they do, and who they are.

Ensuring a just transition to net zero emissions is not just about identifying and addressing issues in directly affected sectors. We must consider our economy in the round, looking to address structural weaknesses as we work towards delivery on our social, economic and climate goals to build a better and more equal Scotland. This includes a drive to shift population diet toward the Eatwell Guide, noting the positive impact[22] this will have on emissions. It is a national mission involving all sections of society, working with those most impacted by the transition to help shape the approach. As such, our first Land Use and Agriculture Just Transition Plan will focus on the livelihoods, skills, health and wellbeing of those who live in and rely on Scotland’s land and agricultural sector as we seek to maintain and support thriving rural and island communities whilst complementing the work of other government strategies and plans.

Closely linked to the issue of climate change is the issue of biodiversity loss: the two are of the same order of importance when it comes to environmental protection. Scotland’s biodiversity is significantly depleted[23], and modern farming, seafood production[24], and wider food production practices have played a large part in that decline. There is also evidence[25] to suggest that people’s lack of engagement with biodiversity loss is in part driven by the increased distance between what people eat and the growing and wider production of food.

Our new Biodiversity Strategy has a high-level goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2030 and reversing it by 2045. Action to address the loss of biodiversity internationally as a result of our consumption through the food chain is a key part of the Strategy.

It is a key commitment for all government policy to assess its impact on biodiversity and take action to minimise it, including through eliminating incentives harmful to biodiversity.

Food Safety, Standards, and Nutrition

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is Scotland’s public sector food body and was established in 2015. FSS aims to protect the health and wellbeing of consumers, and has three objectives set out in section 2(1) of the Food (Scotland) Act 2015:

  • To protect the public from risks to health which may arise in connection with the consumption of food;
  • To improve the extent to which members of the public have diets which are conducive to good health;
  • To protect the other interests of consumers in relation to food.

FSS has a unique role in government, working independently of Ministers and industry, to provide advice which is impartial, and based on robust science and data. FSS is directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Its remit covers all aspects of the food chain which can impact on public health – aiming to protect consumers from food safety risks and promote healthy eating.

FSS acts as a trusted and authoritative source both for the public and for Scottish Government. FSS provides advice on diet and nutrition to support the development and implementation of policies aimed at achieving the Scottish Dietary Goals.

Achieving the Scottish Dietary Goals is key to an overall improvement in public health. They must therefore form a part of the development process for future food-related policy.

Planning and the Wellbeing Economy

Food policy extends beyond the food on our plates: it also encompasses the environment in which we purchase and consume our food.

There are several planning policies and frameworks with relevance to food policy. These are an important tool as they help to link the built environment with health and environmental outcomes. Social practices can be changed with planning decisions that make our surroundings more conducive to healthy and sustainable practices and behaviours.

The National Planning Framework (NPF4) sets the spatial strategy for Scotland’s long-term development. It, along with local development plans prepared by planning authorities across Scotland, forms the development plan for planning system decision making.

NPF4 sets out six spatial principles for the planning of our future places: Just transition; Conserving and recycling assets; Local living; Compact urban growth; Rebalanced development; and Rural revitalisation. These strategic spatial principles are supported by a range of policies, which contribute towards achieving our good food nation aspirations.

The approach of NPF4 will form an important consideration in the preparation and implementation of future food-related policy. This will encourage a more strategic approach to food policy that recognises food as one aspect in a wider place-based context of social and economic policy aimed at a just transition to net zero and the creation of sustainable, liveable and productive places.

There is also a need to consider food policy within the context of the wellbeing economy. Community Wealth Building (CWB) is a practical economic development model intended to ensure that the Scottish Government achieves wellbeing economy objectives. CWB encourages actions across five interconnected pillars: Land and Property; Inclusive Ownership; Workforce; Spending; and Finance. This aims to support the retention of wealth in local communities and give people in those communities a greater stake in the economy of which they are a part.

Fair Work

Our vision is for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society.

Although employment law is reserved to the UK Government, we aim to use Fair Work policy to promote fairer work practices across the labour market in Scotland. On 9 December 2022 we published our refreshed Fair Work Action Plan. The plan includes actions being taken forward by the Scottish Government and various public bodies, including to:

  • encourage employers to offer appropriate effective voice channels
  • support strong trade unions and promote collective bargaining
  • continue to apply Fair Work conditionality to as much of our public spending as we can, within the limits on devolved competence
  • continue to reduce the gender pay gap and disability employment gap and labour market inequalities for racialised minorities and reduce intersectional barriers

The Scottish Government will continue to provide leadership as an employer and through our policies, including applying conditionality to public sector investment. Fair Work First criteria have been attached to some £4 billion of public sector investment since 2019. Since July 2023, recipients of public sector grants have been required to pay at least the real Living Wage and provide appropriate channels for effective voice.

Food Security

Recent and ongoing global events show the fragility of our food security, and the Scottish Government is taking action to improve Scotland’s food resilience and strengthen our supply chains.

We know that there are increasing risks to Scotland’s food security, including from climate change and events such as the invasion of Ukraine. Brexit has also damaged Scotland’s food sector and we are having to adapt to increased vulnerability caused by being outwith the EU single market. Trade has been hampered; export barriers have pushed up costs; new trade deals will intensify these harms; and labour and skills shortages have been created or exacerbated in farming and food production. In March 2022 the Scottish Government established the Short Life Food Security and Supply Taskforce bringing together government and industry to address the immediate impacts of the war in Ukraine, along with pre-existing issues and wider food security considerations.

The Taskforce reported in June 2022 and its immediate recommendations have been met. These included the creation of a Food Security Unit within the Scottish Government, to oversee the recommendations of the taskforce, monitor supply chain vulnerabilities, and consider longer-term food security work to build additional resilience into the food system and to enable industry and government to respond agilely to possible future shocks. The Food Security Unit’s initial focus will be on establishing baseline indicators for Scotland’s food security, which can then form the basis for both strategic considerations and the management of short-term shocks.

The Scottish Government is investing around £50 million a year into a portfolio of strategic research delivered over five years (2022 to 2027) providing science and evidence to support policymakers and its partners. The programme covers a wide range of topics presented under five themes. Theme B (Sustainable Food Systems and Supply) brings together research on food production from domestic agriculture through to sustainable and secure supplies of food. Projects will deliver a range of outcomes such as better understanding of production, the mapping of supply chains and distribution for selected food commodities, ways to improve resilience of Scottish food and drink supply chains, and practical understanding of how current Scottish food production matches or differs from current domestic consumption. Research will also identify how climate change may affect the local food supply and identify routes to deliver increased resilience.

Food security is a broad concept, and the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines it as when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. It will be important to be systematic and evidence-based to ensure a balance between short-term and long-term considerations for Scotland’s food security, and to ensure that food security is properly and proportionately considered in the development of the wide range of relevant policies, such as the Good Food Nation Plans.

Scotland and the global food system

Scotland is part of a global food system. The food we consume in Scotland is not limited to that produced in Scotland, or even within the UK. Domestic food production is also affected by the import of inputs from abroad such as fertilisers and seeds, but we also export some of our food. Policymakers must consider food policy in a global context and seek to engage positively with international best practice.

International trade is a key element in a global food system, but within the context of Scotland it is a reserved function. We focus our efforts on lobbying UK Government Ministers to improve their approach to trade negotiations, and ensure they are fully aware of Scottish interests.

We will also explore how we can engage more with Scotland’s international offices, to build connections abroad, harness opportunities to promote Scotland’s food and drink and learn from best practice on food policy, including from relevant international organisations such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The Scottish Government supports the need to negotiate Free Trade Agreements (FTA). However, they must be negotiated in a balanced and nuanced way that protects both domestic producers and consumers. These principles are set out in a range of documents including Scotland’s Vision for Trade which aims to build trade based on the key principles of inclusive growth; wellbeing; sustainability; a just transition to net zero; and good governance.

The Scottish Government approach to FTAs is that they should be about more than economics: they should also reflect our values as a nation and link domestic and international trade policy to achieve a common desirable goal. That is why Scottish Government Ministers and officials are committed to strong import controls that link market access to domestic standards. Our approach to trade agreements ensures that there are appropriate Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) controls including robust and meaningful Animal Health and Welfare and Anti-Microbial Resistance articles in FTAs. In addition to protecting our food producers, adopting this approach supports the need and basic requirement of healthy, affordable and good quality food available for all our nation. Our approach therefore goes beyond ensuring that food is simply safe to eat. It embeds values throughout the production, environmental and nutritional food chain.


This Plan sets out clearly where we are in relation to food policy across the Scottish Government and where we want to get to. Once the consultation on the national Good Food Nation Plan closes, we will publish a statement summarising the consultation process and any responses received and revise the Plan accordingly. We will then lay the statement summarising the consultation process and the proposed national Plan before the Scottish Parliament for a period of 60 days to allow them to consider and comment. Following the end of this period, Scottish Ministers will have up to three months to finalise the national Plan before the final version is published.

We will then start putting in place new working practices to embed a fully cross-cutting approach into the policymaking process. These practices will support our efforts to tackle the complex task of improving our food system; setting new evidence-based targets; and assessing our progress towards becoming a Good Food Nation. This will not be a quick or easy task: these are complex and challenging issues. That is why the national Good Food Nation Plan will be reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The new Scottish Food Commission will play an important role and provide valuable independent oversight as to how to achieve this.

The next iteration of this national Good Food Nation Plan will reflect work that is currently ongoing. It could include such areas as the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s review of the evidence in relation to ultra-processed foods; work by Food Standards Scotland to provide advice on the potential impact on health outcomes and diet-related health inequalities of the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations in relation to reducing consumption of red meat and dairy; and ongoing work to develop targets to support the Agriculture Reform Programme.



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