Potential £750M boost to Scottish food industry

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food and drink in Scotland could see a £750M boost if producers take on public-sector contracts, such as school dinners
Food and drink in Scotland could see a £750M boost if producers take on public-sector contracts, such as school dinners

Related tags: Public sector, Scotland, Edinburgh, Scottish government

Scotland’s food and drink industry could get a £750M boost, as the government plans to make public-sector catering contracts more accessible to Scottish businesses. 

The Scottish government met with food industry leaders to discuss how Scottish firms could double the amount of public contracts they serviced.

Up to 48% of public contracts are fulfilled by Scottish firms, which could be worth an extra £750M between now and 2021.

The Scottish parliament’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing wanted to see more schools, hospitals and public sector organisations taking advantage of food and drink sourced in Scotland.

‘Untapped potential’

“Currently, almost half of our public sector food and drink contracts are awarded to Scottish businesses. However, I believe there is enormous untapped potential to do more and use the power of public sector spending to boost our own economy,”​ added Ewing.

“Today ​[February 8] we are bringing the whole supply chain together to discuss the barriers and opportunities to increase local sourcing, and boost the economic potential of the food and drink sector.”

He urged businesses to sign up to the Scottish government’s public contracts Scotland website​ for updates on all opportunities to supply the public sector in Scotland.

Julie Welsh, director at Scotland Excel, the centre of procurement expertise for local government, said there was untapped potential for public agencies to source food produced and processed across Scotland.

‘Value-for-money awareness’

“Scotland Excel is working closely with public bodies and producers to develop the procurement ‘know-how’ and value-for-money awareness needed to take maximum advantage of this opportunity,” ​she said.

“Much of this effort is focused on increasing opportunities within our procurement frameworks and across all those in the supply chain.” 

The push to support local food and drink producers followed the Scottish government’s announcement of a £3M supply chain project in November last year.​ It would help producers build connections with suppliers, processors and retailers.  

The Scottish food and drink sector could improve on its £14.3bn annual turnover, claimed Ewing. He said the scheme would help businesses maximise their potential, and protect against any Brexit threats.

Scottish food in the public sector

  • Scottish products are estimated to account for around 48% of the total – this represents a 41% increase compared to 2007 levels.
  • Scotland has 680,000 school pupils across 2,000 primary and 360 secondary schools. Over 57M school meals are served annually and around 40% are free school meals.
  • Around 58% of pupils took a school meal in 2016 – up from 45% in 2009.
  • Hospitals serve approximately 48,000 meals a day, around 18M annually.     

Related topics: Ambient foods, Fresh produce, Drinks

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