Showcasing Scotland 2024: First Minister's speech - 6 March 2024

Speech delivered by First Minister Humza Yousaf at Showcasing Scotland, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 6 March 2024. 

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I’d like to thank all of you for being here.

I’d like to thank in particular those who have travelled from far and wide.

And for those visiting Scotland for the first time, you’re most welcome here.

The only problem is, once you’ve sampled our food and drink, once you’ve experienced Scotland for the next couple of days – you might not want to go home. And that’s perfectly fine by the way!

It is our pleasure to host you in the fantastic capital and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, at the very heart of our magnificent and historic capital city.

I hope you have time, as well as doing important business, I do hope you get the opportunity to explore the best of what Scotland has to offer.

I hope you have some time to explore our beautiful and historic towns and cities. To experience the beauty and warm hospitality of our rural and island communities. Be inspired by the beauty and wonder of our mountains, lochs and natural scenery. And get to sample as much of our truly world class produce as possible!

One word of warning – it is March, you may well get a heatwave and a snowstorm in the same day.

But, as Billy Connolly once said, ‘there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing!’.

Thankfully you don’t have to travel to be able to experience the best food and drink produce. You can do it right at this wonderful showcase.

That’s what we have here. We have the very best of Scotland.

We have a global reputation – and I see this when I travel - for quality, innovation, and sustainability.

And it’s not just our world-famous whisky, salmon and seafood.

We also have brilliant bakery, brewing and meat products, alongside delicious dairy, distilling and premium grocery items.

Every category of our incredible food and drink industry is represented at this year’s Showcasing Scotland event.

Farmers, fishers, crofters, and food and drink producers from every area of Scotland are showcasing their wares, and all that they can offer across the three world-class venues at this year’s conference.

From last night at the stunning Waldorf Astoria Hotel. To the fabulous Scottish gala dinner taking place this evening at the beautiful National Museum of Scotland. And the unlimited networking opportunities right here in the award-winning Edinburgh International Conference Centre, I hope it’s an incredible showcasing event for you.

Our food and drink sector is a massive success story  – it adds around £15 billion each year to our economy, with more than 17,000 businesses employing almost 130,000 people.

I want to see that growing in the years to come.

I’d also like to thank our buyers for coming today, I was lucky enough to speak to a couple of them.  

That’s the beauty of this event. I’ve already heard from so many suppliers who speak the number of markets and buyers they have access to here. More in two days than the would in a year.

That’s the real success story. Bringing global markets right here to Scotland. For that I thank the fantastic team at Scotland Food and Drink.

We engage directly with producers, manufacturers, exporters and importers.

I also want to thank all of you for being here.

I want to thank you all for working together, which we’ve had some difficulty with in the last few years.

These relationships are not just withstanding but thriving. I look forward to continuing our engagement with Scottish food and drink and showcasing the best of what we have here in Scotland. Which has a global reputation.

Please enjoy the produce on offer this week – and please use this week to build and strengthen your relationships with Scotland’s producers and partners.

Most of all I hope you enjoy every single aspect of this week. And for those who are not from Scotland, enjoy the best of Scotland and ‘haste ye back’.  

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