Industry leadership body, Scotland Food & Drink, has created a new £250k fund to support the ongoing development of Scotland’s regional food groups.
Supported by the Scottish Government, the fund will benefit 14 groups across the country by resourcing coordinator posts, and will include match-funding from partners including local authorities. It aims to create an active network of regional ambassadors who work in conjunction with local authorities to promote regional food and drink and tourism strategies.
The funding comes as the annual Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight enters its second week which, this year, celebrates Local Legends across Scotland.
Regional food groups, which are formed of local businesses, volunteers and stakeholders, plan and deliver projects including increasing the consumption and supply of local produce; upskilling food and drink businesses; hosting events; improve digital developments and e-commerce and, crucially, food tourism.
Funding received by the groups will allow them to build on that momentum, delivering direct growth for individual businesses which, in turn, increases the value of the food and drink sector as a whole. Supporting and developing strong, well-resourced groups will also have the added benefits for tourism, community wealth-building, inclusion, shortening supply chains and improving the environment through collaboration.
Scotland’s food and drink and tourism industries have been particularly hard-hit by Coronavirus and its associated restrictions. The sectors are intrinsically linked and the new funding from Scotland Food & Drink will also emphasise the importance of developing an even closer relationship with tourism on a regional basis to support localised recovery from Covid-19 impacts.
Lucy Husband, Director of Market & Business Development at Scotland Food & Drink, said:
“Community revival and shopping locally to support food and drink businesses on our doorstep will be an essential ingredient in the sector’s recovery from the Coronavirus impacts.
“Regional food groups have a pivotal role to play in the successful growth and development of our country’s food, drink and food tourism sectors, especially in the recovery from Covid-19.
“This new fund aims to give regional food groups the vital support that they need to galvanise their local businesses and deliver projects on the ground that will help both the regions and nation thrive.”
Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said:
“In recent years, Scotland's food and drink industry has been one of our strongest economic performers, particularly for our rural economy, but the pandemic has hit it hard. Recovery is vital and must help create resilience, create opportunities for renewal, and safeguard jobs and businesses in some of our most rural and fragile communities.
“The pandemic has led to a surge of interest in buying locally produced food and drink which is why it is more important than ever that we continue to support the sustainable development of the industry at a local level. The Scottish Government is working with the industry to support businesses to capitalise on the local demand for fresh, healthy Scottish produce, and play their part in delivering our ambition for Scotland to be a Good Food Nation.
“Regional food groups have a key role to play, including supporting food tourism and shortening supply chains – an important step to help reduce emissions. This fund will help create an active network of national ambassadors, working collaboratively to support the industry to recover, adapt and grow, and importantly, reach new potential customers locally and further afield.”
Supporting regional food groups is a key pillar in Scotland Food & Drink’s UK Market Development ‘Home Advantage’ Strategy, which aims to achieve £17bn turnover from food and drink sales within the UK by 2030.
The 14 regional food groups being supported by the new funding are:
This year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight takes place between 5 – 20 September and encourages more people than ever to source, buy, eat and promote Scottish food and drink.
For information on how to get involved with Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight please visit fooddrinkfort.scot