22 December 2021

Investment needed to strengthen Scottish food production and shorten supply chains

Scotland Excel responds to Scottish Government's Local Food Strategy Consultation

Investment is needed to better connect Scottish food producers with buyers and also in Scottish production facilities to meet the demand for local produce.

That’s the advice submitted to the Scottish Government’s Local Food Strategy Consultation from Scotland Excel – the organisation that helps the country’s 32 councils source food to serve up in schools and other community settings.

Scotland Excel Chief Executive, Julie Welsh, said: “Councils increasingly want to source local produce to keep their buying power within their communities and reduce their food miles. Investment is needed to make sure that Scottish produce can meet this demand. Investment is also needed in more efficient delivery networks that can improve the connection between producers and buyers.

“We’re seeing growing demand for plant-protein, high-quality meat and chicken products, in particular for school meals, which could be met by local producers if adequate processing facilities were accessible to them.”

Scotland’s food and drink sector has more than 17,000 businesses which employ around 122,000 people - many in remote rural and island communities.

Scotland Excel also recommends that training could encourage more producers to become involved in public sector tendering activity and suggests the Supplier Development Programme Scotland and Scotland Food and Drink could provide this.

Scotland Excel has been working to bring more Scottish suppliers on to the frameworks in its food portfolio and as a result has seen spend on local products increase.

Julie Welsh added: “Across our food portfolio, spending by councils on Scottish produce has continued to rise. Over the past six years, it has increased year on year, and it now accounts for more than 37% of all spend through our food contracts. Not only is this approach good for Scottish
businesses, but it’s helping to create a greener Scotland by reducing food miles.”

The consultation sought views on connecting people with food, connecting producers with buyers and harnessing the buying power of public sector procurement, with Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon MSP described the paper as “the first strategy to make high quality food accessible to all and promote the benefits of locally produced food and drink”.