The first ever meeting of its kind, organised by industry leadership body Scotland Food & Drink, took place over two days on 19th and 20th February 2018 in Inverness and saw 16 different regional food groups attend.
We know that pride in regional food and drink is flourishing and 69% of Scottish consumers say availability of locally sourced food is important to them. For this reason, it is important to continue to strengthen the sector and support each region’s offering.
The groups were encouraged to share their views on a variety of topics throughout the two-day event including:
• Working together to achieve the goal of developing regional and island food and drink as outlined in Ambition 2030
• Sharing best practice and learnings between the groups
• The role of the groups in the development and implementation of a national food tourism strategy
• The challenges and ambitions faced by the regional food groups and the possibility of supporting these on a national basis
Key discussions highlighted the common issues faced by the groups which focused on marketing, resources (both funding and people) and logistics. The groups will now work with Scotland Food & Drink and other support agencies to create an action plan to increase the consumption of regional food.
Edgar Balfour, Project Manager at Orkney Food & Drink, attended the two-day workshop and said:
"It was really great to be able to both hear from what other areas in Scotland were doing in terms of developing their food and drink sectors, as well as letting folks know how we in Orkney Food & Drink have developed over the years. The different approaches for the quite different challenges and opportunities was certainly food for thought."
Graham Young, Industry Development Director at Scotland Food & Drink said:
"Growing sales of regional food and drink is central to continuing the success of our industry and it was extremely positive to see the energy and appetite amongst the groups to be involved in these discussions. Clearly resource sits high on the agenda for those involved over the two days and there was a healthy debate on ways Scotland Food & Drink, Ambition 2030 and the new Scottish food tourism strategy could help in the long term. As an example, food tourism is big business and every day, almost £3 million is spent on food and drink by visitors in Scotland and we are working with the regional food groups to understand how we can support them. The event was the first of its kind and overall it was a great success. There were many good points raised by the groups for Scotland Food & Drink to take away and digest."