Long-term food and drink stability strategy published

Sustaining Scotland, Supplying the World: a strategy for Scotland’s food and drink industry infographic
Alan Robertson

An industry-led strategy which aims for a 25% increase in turnover for Scotland’s food and drink sector by 2028 has been published.

'Sustaining Scotland, Supplying the World: a strategy for Scotland’s food and drink industry' has been developed by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, which brings government and industry together to further the interests of the sector.

The strategy aims to support the sector to grow faster than similarly sized competitors, such as Ireland and Norway. The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership projects it could support a 25% increase in turnover for the sector by 2028 – from a projected £16 billion to £20 billion.

Actions include restoring promotional activity to pre-pandemic levels to reach new markets, and recruiting and retaining a highly skilled workforce to adapt and tackle skills shortages in the sector.

First Minister Humza Yousaf launched the strategy and announced £5 million Scottish Government funding during the 2023 Royal Highland Show. Industry will contribute a further £1 million, bringing total funding for year one of the strategy to £6 million.

The launch takes place seven years to the day since the UK voted to leave the EU, which has caused significant setbacks for the Scottish food and drink sector. Scottish Government analysis, published today, indicates Brexit is the main cause of difficulties in trading overseas for 44% of businesses in Scotland, and responsible for a third of food price inflation, currently at a 45-year high.

Previous figures from Scotland Food & Drink Partnership have also shown that in January 2022 food manufacturing industries faced a shortfall of at least 10,000 workers, with impacts particularly notable on soft fruit, horticulture and seasonal vegetable production, making attracting new talent to the sector a priority for the strategy.

The First Minister said:

“Brexit has caused very significant problems for our farmers and food and drink industry – for everyone from seafood suppliers to seed potato produces.

“Despite this, the food and drink sector remains a Scottish success story. As an employer – including in rural areas – and an exporter, it is a major contributor to the Scottish Government’s missions of opportunity, equality and community. We are determined to work with the sector to help it succeed, and that’s we’re supporting the food and drink strategy with £5 million this year.

“Government and industry need to collaborate if we are going to attract a skilled workforce, improve productivity, reduce our carbon emissions and market ourselves globally – all of these aims, and many others, require co-ordinated action.”

Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink Iain Baxter said:

“The new Scotland Food & Drink Partnership industry strategy will lay the foundations for sustainable growth for one of our country’s most important economic sectors. Sustaining Scotland. Supplying the World is a collaborative strategy that brings together businesses, leadership bodies and government to chart a sustainable and profitable path for the industry. 

“Our food and drink sector is a major economic contributor, so having a unifying strategy to drive forward a positive vision for the industry is essential. We have the opportunity to cement ourselves as a world leader in sustainability. That’s sustainability in the widest possible sense – environmental impacts, societal fairness, and economically sustainable.”


Homepage | Scotland Food and Drink

Sustaining Scotland, Supplying the World: Scotland’s Food and Drink Strategy replaces Ambition 2030: Industry Strategy for Growth | Scotland Food and Drink and the Food and Drink recoveryplan.pdf (foodanddrink.scot) which supported industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership will publish a detailed year-one delivery plan shortly, focusing on how businesses across the sector can access and sell to new markets in Scotland and across the world.

£5 million will be provided by Scottish Government in 2023-24 to support year one of the strategy, with further funding to be considered as part of future Scottish Budgets.

Scottish Government Brexit Anniversary briefing highlights:

  • food price inflation at a 45 year high with Brexit responsible for an estimated one third of it
  • damaged trade with 44% of businesses in Scotland naming Brexit as the main cause of difficulties trading overseas

UK Government issues - Short Life Food Security and Supply Taskforce: report - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) highlighted the need for the UK Government to address immigration rules in relation to particular key sector labour and skills shortages. From a Scotland specific perspective, Scotland Food & Drink reported, in January 2022, that Scotland’s food manufacturing industries have a shortfall of at least 10,000 workers.