Scottish food and drink growing at twice the UK rate

By Laurence Gibbons contact

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish food and drink manufacturing is outperforming the UK
Scottish food and drink manufacturing is outperforming the UK

Related tags: Drink manufacturing sector, Scotland, United kingdom

Scotland’s food and drink sector turnover has grown at twice the UK rate since 2008, taking it to a record £14.3bn in 2013, according to the Scottish government.

The sector has increased by 24% since 2008 and is on track to meet its target of £16.5bn by 2017, it said.

A co-ordinated approach between Scottish government and food and drink businesses was responsible for the country being “leaps and bounds”​ ahead of the rest of the UK, Scotland’s food Secretary Richard Lochhead claimed.

UK exports of food and non-alcoholic drinks dropped 5.3% in volume to £6bn in the first six months of this year as a result of the strengthening of the sterling, the Food & Drink Exporters Association said.

‘Jewel in its crown’

Lochhead said Scotland’s natural resources and food and drink industry was the “jewel in the crown” ​of the nation.

“I am committed to seeing it thrive and flourish which is why the Scottish government and our agencies are working closely with industry to achieve its ambitious targets, which have previously been smashed years ahead of schedule,”​ he said.

“It is because of this joint approach that we are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the UK, with food and drink manufacturing in Scotland, for example, growing at twice the UK rate between 2008 and 2013.”

Scottish food and drink facts

  • £14.3bn turnover in 2013
  • Up 4.0% (£550M) from revised 2012 estimate (£13.8bn)
  • Turnover rose 24% (£2.8bn) from £11.6bn in 2008.
  • Turnover growth in Scotland’s food and drink manufacturing sector (22%) outperformed the UK food and drink manufacturing sector (11.0%)

Source: Scottish Annual Business Survey 2013 and Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture 2015

Scotland Food & Drink chief executive James Withers also said the collaboration had been a “game-changer”​ that had built a national identity for Scotland.

Success stories

“Breaking £14bn for the first time is a hugely important milestone,”​ he said. “Behind that huge figure lies individual success stories with food and drink business both large and small thriving in domestic market and international markets.”

Despite the success the sector is still met with the challenges of rising costs, variable exchange rates and “really challenging times”​ for farmers and fishermen, Withers said.

“However, the opportunities outweigh the challenges and we’ve earmarked over £2bn in further growth in the next few years,”​ he added.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said it was fantastic news and most appropriate as Scotland celebrates its “outstanding natural larder” during the Year of Food and Drink. “Scotland is renowned the world over for its quality produce which is no doubt why sampling our traditional dishes and local delicacies continues to be a top visitor activity,”​ he added.

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