Scottish food and drink could soon rival oil and gas as the nation’s greatest export, according to new targets set today.
With the industry booming, the aim is to grow the value of food and drink sent abroad to £7.1 billion in just five years. Oil and gas exports are currently worth £7.6 billion.
The new targets, set by Scotland Food and Drink, were unveiled during Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight and at a time when the sector is booming with a growing appetite for Scottish produce overseas.
Markets such as the Middle East and China are growing particularly strongly and Scotland Food and Drink, working with Scottish Development International, is building a network of representatives abroad to ensure the growth target is delivered.
Scotland Food and Drink Chief Executive James Withers said:
“Food and drink is now Scotland’s fastest growing export sector.
“Three years ago we set ourselves a target to break the £5 billion barrier in annual exports of food and drink by 2017. We have achieved that six years early. That is a credit to food and drink businesses up and down Scotland and reflects the collaboration between industry bodies and Government who have all come together through Scotland Food & Drink.
“Today we set ourselves a new ambition. By 2017, we now want to break the £7 billion mark. It is fitting that we set that new target in the midst of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, a celebration of everything that is making our nation a Land of Food and Drink.
“The 50 per cent growth in whisky exports and 63 per cent increase in food exports since 2007 make us ambitious for even greater success. Whether it is in Europe, North America or Asia, our culinary footprint is growing around the globe. If we ensure we have the right environment here for businesses to grow and increase production, alongside a truly united approach from government and industry, I believe we can hit the new target of £7.1 billion over the next six years. Doing so would mean we will have almost doubled our export trade in food and drink in a decade.”
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead said:
“Scotland’s international reputation as a land of food and drink is growing which means our fine produce is increasingly sought after, on dining tables both at home and abroad.
“Our food and drink industry already makes a tremendous contribution to our economy and it’s now Scotland’s fastest growing export sector which is clearly something we are keen to build on.
“The targets announced today are ambitious and stretching but I’m confident that our food and drink sector is more than up to the challenge, particularly given the strong performance we have seen to date and the interest we are seeing in emerging markets such as the Middle East and China.”
Chief Executive of Scottish Development International Anne MacColl said:
“It’s great to see that an industry as internationally successful as Scotland’s food and drink sector is not resting on its laurels but is forging ahead with even more ambitious export targets.
“With increasing demand for Scottish food and drink produce, particularly for whisky and salmon, we are working closely with our industry counterparts to really raise the profile of Scottish food and drink companies in key growth markets.
“I’m confident that we can achieve these targets by continuing this partnership approach, and my message to Scottish food and drink companies of all sizes is that there is a huge opportunity out there, and we want to support you in every way possible.”
Scotland Food & Drink is the industry leadership body tasked with growing the reputation and value of the nation’s food and drink industry. Established in 2007, it brings together the main representative organisations across the food and drink sector in Scotland. It works in partnership with Government and its agencies to grow the sales of Scottish produce at home and overseas.