The Scottish government is rallying food and drink processors to meet with politicians and stakeholder groups in Scotland on May 30 to help map out the sector’s future.
Speaking at the Scottish Food and Drink Federation’s (SFDF’s) symposium ‘Sustainability in the Food Supply Chain’, Jim Mather, Scottish enterprise minister, called on all parties to unite to inspire sustainable growth.
To this end, a summit is being organised at the Corran Halls, Oban in Argyll on Scotland’s west coast and will be chaired by Fergus Younger, development manager for Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum. “Those present will spend three hours identifying goals, strengths, inhibitors to growth and the missing stakeholders who should be at the next meeting,” said Mather.Speaking to Food Manufacture, Mather said he expected 50-60 stakeholders to be there, representing sectors such as supermarket and foodservice outlets. The Scottish Food Standards Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Power will be among those attending. Delegates will discuss global issues such as the environment, food supply and energy use.
The meeting is being organised as part of a wider strategy to encourage economic growth in Scotland. The Scottish government hopes it will be the first of many such events to be organised for the food industry.
The food and drink summit will take place prior to the update on Scotland’s food policy debate presented by Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead at the Royal Highland Show on June 19.
A new economic model had to be applied to all industries, including food and drink, to achieve long term success, said Mather. “Going for shareholder value is not enough. There is no point getting that sort of growth for five or six years if you don’t endure and grow beyond that. You have got to adapt, innovate and develop.”
He said Scotland’s food and drink manufacturers should take advantage of the heritage and provenance of their brands to create opportunities for premiumisation.
Despite the need to address the nation’s diet and alcohol consumption, Mather said its established spirits industry would be integral to the sector’s growth and should not be demonised.