The food and drink sector is getting £5 million to help its recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19) and prepare for Brexit.
A new joint industry and government plan containing more than 50 actions has been developed to assist in stimulating demand for produce in key markets and supporting businesses to capitalise on consumer demand.
The plan aims to mitigate and reverse the damage caused by both the pandemic and the lack of clarity regarding Brexit and aid the industry’s progression to be greener and more resilient. It also builds on the work of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership in delivering Ambition 2030, the shared vision for the future of Scotland’s food and drink sector. The industry is expected to contribute £3 million of private sector funding to support delivery of the plan through to 2023.
The food and drink sector has been one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19, with industry forecasts predicting up to £3 billion in revenue lost this year alone, and the lack of clarity regarding a Brexit deal will amplify those challenges.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“The food and drink industry is one of the true success stories of Scotland’s economy, with exports worth a record £6.7 billion in 2019. Across the country, particularly in many of our rural areas, the sector creates highly paid, highly skilled jobs and contributes directly to the public purse in taxes.
“Food and drink businesses have shown remarkable resilience and innovation in responding to the pandemic, from finding new routes to market themselves or in the actions they have taken to support their workforce and keep food on our tables. However, in addition to the many challenges presented by COVID-19, we now need to prepare for the disruption and uncertainty the end of the Brexit transition period will bring in just six weeks’ time.
“This funding commitment will enable Scotland Food & Drink and industry partners to come together to work on fairer, greener and sustainable solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. Scotland is home to much of the world’s greatest produce and we must do all we can to protect and promote it.”
Scotland Food & Drink CEO James Withers said:
“2020 has been a year like no other. The trauma wreaked by COVID-19 has affected all of us and following that earthquake comes the next great disrupter: Brexit. But despite this volatile and uncertain world, Scotland’s food and drink sector remains resilient and full of talented and dedicated people that will help drive the recovery.
“The plan announced today brings together industry and the Scottish Government in an agreed strategy of tangible action to stimulate demand in domestic and international markets. It also supports businesses to take advantage of opportunities, recover from COVID-19 and, as far as is possible, navigate Brexit.
“This is a time for action and we’re delighted to have the backing of the Scottish Government and the industry for the work that will start now.”
View the full recovery plan here.