Scottish government launches Ukraine food security task force

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Scottish government has launched a taskforce to assess food security and supply concerns in light of the conflict in Ukraine
The Scottish government has launched a taskforce to assess food security and supply concerns in light of the conflict in Ukraine

Related tags: Supply chain

A taskforce to monitor, identify and respond to any potential disruption to food security and supply resulting from the impact of the war in Ukraine has been established by Scottish government.

Co-chaired by Scottish cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands Mairi Gougeon and Scotland Food and Drink chief executive James Withers, the Food Security and Supply Taskforce will work jointly with industry. 

The taskforce will include key food and drink industry leaders and will meet frequently over the coming weeks., drawing on the combined technical and scientific knowledge and expertise from across a range of sectors, organisations and agencies. 

Gougeon said the Government’s immediate focus continued to be on doing everything it could within its power to support the people of Ukraine and address their humanitarian need. 

Better understanding 

“We need to take action now to better understand the potential impact of disruption to the food supply chain in Scotland, how industry and government might work together to manage and mitigate those, and be alert to the resulting impact on the cost of food products,”​ she added. 

“Over the last two years, our food and drink sectors have experienced a series of shocks in terms of disrupted supply chains and new barriers to trade through COVID and Brexit. It is clear that the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine will have further impacts – not least through the hugely challenging increases in energy bills which affect households and everyone in the food industry, from farmers to hauliers, processors to retailers.” 

Withers said the establishment of the taskforce was a welcome and important step for both focusing on the humanitarian fallout of the war and the potential impact on national food security and supply. 

“From wheat and barley to sunflower oil, Ukraine and the surrounding region is a major player in terms of global food supply and agricultural production,” ​he continued. “Immediate supplies of food and animal feed are secure, even if prices are rising sharply.  

Short and medium-term support  

“However, whilst much still remains unknown in terms of the impact of the war on global supply chains, there is clearly a shock to the system coming. We must understand its implications for Scotland’s farmers, food manufacturers and consumers and consider any short or medium-term action we can take to mitigate their impact.” 

National Farmers Union Scotland chief executive Scott Walker also welcomed the Scottish Government’s recognition that the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine had significantly heightened food security concerns. 

“Inflationary pressures across the whole supply chain, from farm to consumer, have been building and market volatility has reached exceptional levels,”​ said Walker. “The short life of the taskforce recognises the seriousness of the situation and the need to identify solutions quickly. Whatever this group identifies, we need action from the government on its recommendations. 

“The Union believes that maintaining stability so that farming businesses retain their capacity to produce food must be a priority.” 

The Scottish food industry’s solidarity with Ukraine followed a number of food and drink firms pulling out of Russia in protest against the war. 

Valio has announced it will end business operations in Russia​ in defiance against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, with immediate effect.

Related topics: Supply Chain

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