By Russell Bruce
High profile Keep Scotland the Brand campaigner, Ruth Watson took the campaign trail to Westminster on Tuesday.
She was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee, chaired by Pete Wishart. Others giving evidence were Gail Evans of Queen Margaret University. London who set out the importance of Geographical Indicators (GIs) that provide product protection under European law and Lindesey Low from the Law Society of Scotland who works for the Scotch Whisky Association.
Ruth Watson and Gail Evans emphasised that Geographical indicators do much more to protect area specific products in the way a trade mark fails to do. GI recognition is land based, supporting mainly rural areas, recognises environmental factors and skills and which in turn generate a price premium.
Ruth patiently explained that Scottish meat products command a price premium because the Farm Assured Scheme behind Scotch Quality Beef gave Farm to Fork provenance not available to lower quality British branded meat. Alec Ross talked about a nuanced approach to different product standards in his article earlier this week.
The link below covers the full meeting and is well worth watching. Even if you only watch the first 20 minutes or so you will get a clear picture that Ruth Watson is fully on top of her brief. Her interaction with Gail Evans and Lindesey Low shows a powerful synthesis of argument that Scottish branding has a market driven advantage offering protection against low quality imitation and delivering a price premium benefit for rural communities.
The discussion around North Ronaldsay Mutton is especially enlightening. North Ronaldsay sheep live on a diet of seaweed giving the meat a distinctive flavour much in demand in Europe.