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Scotland's Food and Drink in 2014

James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food & Drink

2014 is an exciting time for Scotland as the country plays host to a spectacular year of sport and cultural celebration.

From the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to the 2014 Ryder Cup, not to mention the vast array of events presented by Homecoming Scotland, we have a fantastic opportunity to put Scotland firmly on the map and create a lasting legacy that will see the country’s food and drink, culture, heritage and natural resources celebrated like never before.

There is no doubt that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the food and drink industry to pursue and embrace new business opportunities, working towards our ambitious goal of growing the value of the industry to £16.5bn by 2017.

Indeed, with the world’s eyes on Scotland throughout the Games and beyond, the prospect of the 2014 experience has given producers and suppliers the chance to step up, and prove their capability to supply major events; this confidence will prove invaluable as they continue to grow their business and build on milestones already reached.

This vision to further empower our industry will be emphasised today (5 March) at the Going Places with Scotland’s Food and Drink Industry Conference taking place in Perth Concert Hall.  The event is an opportunity for our producers and manufacturers to hear from leading industry figures how they, through innovation, collaboration, up-skilling and diversification, can reach their long-term aspirations and grow in new markets both at home and abroad in 2014 and build a lasting legacy.

This national event is a partnership between Perth & Kinross Council, Scottish Enterprise, Scotland Food & Drink, SAC Food and Drink, and part funded by the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund.  It’s the first in a series of big-hitting conferences to run as part of the Scottish Cities Alliance Global Excellence Conference Programme.  The excellence of Scotland’s key sectors will be on display (and it’s nice to see food and drink up to bat first!)

Scotland already has a strong reputation for delivering superior tastes and flavours and demand is undoubtedly there. Research from Scottish Enterprise reveals that over 70% of those visiting Scotland want to experience regional specialities, authentic tastes and indigenous produce.  This sets a strong case for retailers, foodservice and hospitality providers to look local when stocking their shelves and creating menus, giving audiences the chance to experience great produce now and develop a taste for it thus pushing demand in the future at home and abroad.

With an estimated 15 million visitors due to visit Scotland in 2014, we have set up the new industry-led 2014 Food & Drink campaign to support the development of Scotland’s food and drink industry. Its aim is to champion Scotland’s natural larder in order to encourage the growth potential of Scottish products and brands in domestic and international markets.

With the roll out of the 2014 Food & Drink campaign bolstering what’s predicted to be an exceptional year for Scotland, we have no doubt an exceptional legacy will be created for 2015 – Year of Food & Drink and well into the future.

James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food & Drink