Think Local is an initiative from the government and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to advise local food firms, networks and communities. It will include a £1.5M community food fund, which will deliver funding to a range of projects including: local food marketing, food tourism, farmers’ markets, food festivals and events.
The National Food & Drink Forum will also advise the government on the strategic direction of the Scottish food and drink sector.
Champion local food
Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Here in Scotland we have a fantastic range of fine food and drink right on our doorstep, with more and more Scots realising the excellent quality and taste that local producers deliver. But we can always do more. Think Local will help champion local food, by supporting projects and events across Scotland.”
He added that next year’s Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and a second Homecoming celebration would be a great opportunity to showcase Scotland to the world.
“Scotland has made great strides over the past five years in how our food and drink is perceived, backed up by soaring exports. But I want more Scots to have access to delicious and nutritious local food, which is a particular challenge during these tough economic times. This is one issue I intend to put to the National Food & Drink Forum,” said Lochhead.
Despite the benefit of great natural resources, the Scottish food and drink industry faced key challenges, he added. Those included: climate, diet and the economic challenge. The forum will be asked to plan how the sector should best responds to these challenges.
David Lamb, SRUC head of food and drink at SRUC, said: “Think Local builds on the excellent work already delivered in the development of local food. It brings together strands which have looked to develop the sector of local and speciality food from farms shops and farmers markets through to the regional networks which are enhancing Scotland’s reputation for quality food.”
Alan Stevenson, development director at the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of this joined up approach across Scotland to help develop local and regional food opportunities. It brings together all the expertise available in Scotland to drive forward the growth of local foods through Think Local.”
The Scottish food sector received a big blow this week with the news that Vion is to close its Hall’s meat plant with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
Scottish food sector challenges
- National diet
- Economic recession
Source: Scottish government