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Shoppers trust the Saltire!

Lochhead targets £10bn sales

By Gordon Davidson

SALES OF Scottish produce across Great Britain have increased by 21% in the last two years, according to figures released at the Highland Show.

Announcing the next stage of the Scottish Government's national food and drink policy, rural affairs Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead said that Scottish branding was already a potent marketing tool, and had the potential to become even stronger internationally.

Between May 2007 and May 2009, retail sales of Scottish brands across Great Britain increased by a fifth worth an extra £270 million. Sales of Scottish brands in Scotland over the same period were up 18%.

"Scotland is world renowned as a food producing nation," said Mr Lochhead. "Sales of Scottish produce have soared. Despite the economic downturn there is much to be proud of and we aim to build on this success story.

"The measures announced today are based on evidence and input from some of the country's leading and most respected experts," said Mr Lochhead. "Their impact will go far beyond the industry, and in developing it we have set out an ambitious vision to change us for the better, allowing us to prosper as a nation.

"With this feel good factor and wealth of talent at our disposal the time is right to create a food and drink revolution. Delivering this next wave of success can't be achieved by single groups or individuals working in isolation. It is challenge that can only be met through a collective response from all those growing, making, buying or selling food and drink in Scotland.

"The prize is a great one a healthier, wealthier, more environmentally sustainable Scotland, and 2009 can be remembered as a real landmark year for Scottish food and drink."

Among the new measures announced were:

n Action to get more Scottish food onto menus in hotels, restaurants, cafes and pubs, with clear advice on where food has come from;

n Support for more farmers markets, farm shops and local food initiatives across Scotland;

n A new strategy for the food and drink manufacturing sector to increase sales by a third to £10 billion by 2017;

n A new charter with supermarkets who have committed to playing their part in taking forward the national food and drink policy;

n Promoting a better understanding of the food chain amongst young people in Scotland's schools;

n Another £3.3 million from the Food Processing and Marketing Grants Scheme.

NFU Scotland has been involved in the development of the new policies, which it hopes will lead to "real improvement" in the relationships between supermarkets and their suppliers.

"We have seen the major supermarkets at the Highland Show over the last few days, emphasising the work they undertake with Scottish suppliers there are some excellent stories developing, but they should be the norm," commented NFUS chief executive, James Withers.

"The supermarkets' commitment to a new retailer charter must mark the beginning of a more equitable relationship with all their suppliers and not simply be a wall of words that they hide behind. The major supermarkets have committed to play their role in ensuring food security in this country and that ultimately boils down to food producers receiving a sustainable return."


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