Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is in America this week to attend a series of engagements and meetings forging new, and fortifying established, links between Scotland and America, with a particular focus on food and drink.
Exports play a vital role to Scotland’s economy and America’s appetite for premium Scottish produce presents many opportunities for companies and brands. Latest figures have shown that food and drink exports have increased by 20 per cent and the importance of global and emerging markets has never been greater.
During his three-day visit Mr Lochhead will:
- Make a series of visits to witness the work of Scottish emerging companies, as well as those currently operating in the American market, including Walkers Shortbread, one of the most recognisable and well known Scottish food brands in the US and a leader in the speciality food market
- Meet Congressman Frank Lucas, Senior Republican on House Agriculture Committee to discuss future farm policy in the US
- Meet the US Department of Agriculture to discuss meat exports from Scotland following an exchange of letters last year
- Discuss further support for Scotch Whisky with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS)
- Meet with the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to discuss US Government strategies for defence rationalisation. The OEA is the US Department of Defence’s primary source for assisting communities that are adversely impacted by defence programme changes
- Meet the Inter American Development Bank (IADB) to discuss Scottish expertise in the development of clean energy technology and projects
Ahead of his trip, Mr Lochhead said:
“The United States is our largest export market for all of Scotland’s food and drink businesses.
“We want to capitalise on the diaspora of Scots in the US and the fantastic recognition Scotland has in America to drive our food and drink exports to even greater success.
“Whilst in the US, I’ll also take the opportunity to meet senior politicians and officials from the USDA and other departments to progress this agenda and make a real difference for Scotland’s businesses and communities.
“Scotland is known the world over for its spectacular unspoilt landscape, rolling hills, fresh air and clean water. We have an environment which affords us first class raw materials for our superior food and drink sector. We have an environment to be protected, harnessed and celebrated.”
Mr Lochhead emphasised the hard work currently being undertaken by Scottish companies seeking to break into the lucrative US market and spoke of the importat role played by our home producers, suppliers and retailers.
“In America I will see first hand the further opportunities which lie ahead for Scotland and witness the hard work of our companies out there breaking into the US market. The industry is already a fantastic success story punching well above its weight.
“According to latest figures, Scotland’s food and drink sector saw sales increase by a billion pounds in 2008 to a staggering £11.2 billion, with exports increasing by 20 per cent.
“We have producers, suppliers, fishermen, farmers, crofters, retailers and manufacturers to be extremely proud of. Consumers, at home and abroad, have also played a vital role by recognising Scotland’s quality food and drink sector and are loyally flying it’s flag. I intend to fully do the same.
“Food and drink is one of the defining issues of the 21st century; not least in Scotland. Our food and drink sector can be enjoyed and celebrated by every Scot. My vision sees us all working together to enhance Scotland’s global reputation as a land of food and drink – enjoyed both at home and abroad.”
The visit follows on from the last week’s official St Andrew’s Day good wishes from the US government that acknowledged the links between the two nations and the role played by Scots and those of Scots descent in establishing the United States of America.