AS reported in last month’s Scottish Grocer, Scotland Food and Drink chief executive, James Withers, told an audience of Scottish wholesalers that Scotland’s food producers have a “real opportunity” to develop premium products and he made a pledge that he as head of the Scottish food industry’s leadership organisation would help the wholesale sector develop a Scottish range.
Addressing more than 200 delegates at the Scottish Wholesale Association conference, held in June at Crieff Hydro, Withers said Scotland – one of the few nations to have a national food and drink policy – was attracting interest from countries including Canada and Sweden, who are looking to emulate the Scottish approach.
“Sustainability, provenance, health, premium – we have a story behind food and drink but we haven’t always been very good at telling it in the past,” he said.
Telling the story, he pointed out, had never been more important, with Scotland in 2014 scheduled to host several important events including the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Talking about 2014, Withers revealed that Scotland Food and Drink will be creating a pop-up Food Village which, for example, will visit Perth during the Ryder Cup.
He stressed that food and drink is the best-performing sector of Scottish economy and also the fastest-growing export sector.
But if many of the organisation’s and the industry’s targets had been achieved early there was still plenty to do in the Scottish food and drink set-up, he said.
“We need to be better at collaboration, innovation and skills. If we do not have a professional food and drink industry, nothing else matters.
“People are not going to pay more for something just because it is Scottish or local,” he said. “But they will pay extra for premium.”