Food and drink are major contributors to Scotland’s economy, worth around £14 billion each year. Our 18,850 food and drink businesses, employ 115,400 people and the SNP Government will continue to support the sector to expand sustainably and inclusively through its industry-led strategy, Ambition 2030.
Scotland’s food and drink sector has increased year on year; 78% since 2007. Last year, exports reached a record £6.3 billion, due in part to the success of the first phase of the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.
In recognition of this, the second phase, from 2019 to 2024, was announced earlier this month to help the industry double to £30 billion by 2030. The Food and Drink Export Plan is supported by £4.5 million of SNP Government, industry and Scottish Development International funding to help Scottish companies take their products into new and existing markets. ‘In-market specialists’ will be employed to offer expert advice, forge stronger relationships with buyers and encourage Scottish businesses to develop new products.
Our unrivalled, quality produce should benefit us from a multitude of perspectives.
The SNP Government’s national food and drink policy encompasses the impact of food and drink on health, the environment, social justice, education and economy to build a 'Good Food Nation' where people benefit from and take pride and pleasure in the food they produce, buy, serve and eat.
To that end, the SNP Government published the national food and drink policy ‘Becoming a Good Food Nation,’ which set out a new vision: that by 2025 Scotland will be “a Good Food Nation, where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day.”
Following consultation and a Good Food Nation Summit in September 2017, the Food Commission submitted its recommendations in December 2017 and a programme of measures was published on 11 September 2018. We currently await the analysis of the consultation on legislative proposals to further develop policy.
Within Cunninghame North, the Three Towns Growers, Organic Growers of Fairlie and Garnock Valley Allotment Association are prime examples of how a passion for good and healthy food can bring communities together. Earlier this year, the Three Towns Growers, based in Ardrossan, received an Our Place Award of £367,043 from the National Lottery Community Fund for their project '3TG Inspire’ and a £100,000 award from the NAC Community Investment Fund, with local government working in partnership with SNP Government food policy.
An Education Hub will be developed at Three Towns Growers’ Elm Park site and I was delighted to present the Growers with an award in the Scottish Parliament at this year’s Scottish Adult Learners Awards. Their outreach programmes, social events and workshops are open to all in the community, and they often find that someone who may not want an allotment or raised bed, is more than happy to help out as a volunteer. For that reason, the group has recently introduced a membership that everyone is welcome to join.
NAC has been awarded the Soil Association Scotland’s Gold ‘Food for Life’ accreditation for the sixth consecutive year, for its school meals service.
I back the Scottish Food Coalition’s campaign to make Scotland a Good Food Nation through the transformation of Scotland’s food system. It contributes to improved health and wellbeing, values the work to put food on our plate, supports high animal welfare, and sustains our wildlife, natural resources and environment for generations to come.
Scotland is fortunate to have good quality food produce and we must maximise the benefits of this for our economy, health and society.
Kenneth wrote this article for the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, where it appeared in the 19 June 2019 edition.