Support for the Food & Drink Sector

Scotland’s Food and Drink sector is to be supported with a £8 million package – £5million from the Scottish Government and £3million from the industry.

Announcing the funding and support initiatives , Rural Economy Secretary in the Scottish Government, Fergus Ewing said:

“The food and drink industry is one of the true success stories of Scotland’s economy, with exports worth a record £6.7 billion in 2019. Across the country, particularly in many of our rural areas, the sector creates highly paid, highly skilled jobs and contributes directly to the public purse in taxes.”

Fergus Ewing as the then Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity , at the 2017 Royal Highland Show (photo Scot Gov)

“This funding commitment will enable Scotland Food & Drink and industry partners to come together to work on fairer, greener and sustainable solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. Scotland is home to much of the world’s greatest produce and we must do all we can to protect and promote it.”

Food and Drink has not only been hit by the public health measures introduced nationally and worldwide to prevent the spread of Covid19 but it will also be severely impacted by Brexit.

The UK has been in a transition period as it prepared to leave the EU. This will end on January 1 2021 and the UK will have left the EU – it is still not known if there will be any sort of trade deal.

The EU is the world’s largest single market. This means that countries in the EU trade freely without barriers to borders and with joint regulations meaning ease of trading. Within the EU there is also the free movement of people which has been of great benefit to Scotland, especially to the soft fruit sector. For new technology, so important in 21st century, it is also a digital free area. On 1st of January 2021, the UK will no longer be part of any of these arrangements.

There will be tariffs applied, to exports and imports, and checks made at entry to the EU. Currently UK regulations on food standards are inline with the EU, as time goes on this may change, especially if the UK wishes to have a trade deal with the USA. Having different standards to those of the EU on food, drink or any other product will further increase delays to trade and involve increased documentation.

The Scottish Government, working with the Food and Drink Sector, has developed a recovery plan to support the industry during this period of great uncertainty. Recovering from Coronavirus and Fuelling Brexit Preparations.

The sector will add to the Scottish Government’s £5million with its contribution of £3million.

The initiative will encourage Scots to buy local but there will also be the creation of joint posts inside buying teams of the major UK retailers and food service companies.

The South East of England will be targeted in a new campaign to encourage the use of Scottish food and drink products.

Internationally a new Label Rouge salmon campaign will target the French market .

A new export advisory service will also be set up to support businesses with all the new trading regulations and documentation which will be required as we will no longer be in the EU.

Commenting on the plan, Scotland Food & Drink CEO James Withers said:

“2020 has been a year like no other. The trauma wreaked by COVID-19 has affected all of us and following that earthquake comes the next great disrupter: Brexit. But despite this volatile and uncertain world, Scotland’s food and drink sector remains resilient and full of talented and dedicated people that will help drive the recovery.

“This is a time for action and we’re delighted to have the backing of the Scottish Government and the industry for the work that will start now.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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