Culture

Arctic Connections: Trading Post Brexit

When the UK left the EU producers also lost the protected named status that many quality products in Scotland had been awarded.

In Orkney, with the loss of the local abattoir, protected named status for Orkney beef and lamb had already gone. How important has been the loss of named status on our food and drink sector? And how can any negative impact of this loss be addressed? And with the loss of being in the world’s largest free market what trading links do we need to strengthen?

Arctic Connections

Dr David Watts from the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute has conducted a review of food and drink enterprises and clusters in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. It highlights the potential value of ‘place’ and opportunities for engagement with countries in the Arctic Region. 

The report draws out contrasts and similarities between the Highlands and Islands and the Arctic Region, examines evidence of food and drink clusters and innovation in the Highlands and Islands, explores aspects of the values and behaviour of food and drink entrepreneurs, and suggests avenues for further work and engagement. 

Dr Watts said:

“The evidence suggests that Highland and Island food and drink enterprises which use local place name branding for their products are more optimistic about future prosperity than those who don’t. This emphasis on the importance of place in food and drink marketing chimes with economic development proposals being developed in the Arctic Region.

“The report, therefore, provides a basis for dialogue: between policymakers and the communities and food and drink enterprises of the Highlands and Islands; and with potential partners in the Arctic Region.”  

For Orkney, and our neighbour Shetland, developing trading links with the Arctic region is building on strong historic connections already established. “Welcome to Scotland, A European Gateway to the Arctic Region”

The review was funded by the Scottish Government as part of a fellowship scheme from the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) Gateway.  

This SEFARI Fellowship was set up to identify potential opportunities to engage with food and drink sector partners in the Arctic Region. The immediate impetus derived from a proposal, initiated by the University of Saskatchewan, to develop an Arctic Foods Innovation Cluster (AFIC). Key areas of interest for the Fellowship, which form the objectives for this report, included:

The Highlands and Islands as a food producing region (i.e. regional attributes shared with northern countries, e.g. provenance, slow maturing, depth of flavour, more sustainable, pristine environment, traditional methods; the opportunities and challenges facing the Highlands and Islands as a food producing region; and potential synergies with Arctic and near Arctic regions);

Cluster models (i.e. identification and comparison of clusters operating at local, regional, national and international levels);

Research and Innovation (i.e. Scottish food research strengths and innovation). The work of the Fellowship was intended to combine analysis of secondary data and consultation with key individuals and organisations. However, given the impact on the food and drink sector of restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, industry consultation was judged not to be appropriate. As there may be scope for industry consultation in future, this report identifies evidence gaps that such work could address.

Food and Drink Innovation and Clustering in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands: review of opportunities for engagement with the Arctic Region

The report was co-authored by Sarah Jones, formerly of Scotland’s Rural College, and is a resource for thinking about and constructing social and economic development policies that work with and for communities and enterprises in the Highlands and Islands.

It advocates development of, rather than just development in, the region in order to complement traditional economic development policies that seek to promote technologically innovative and high-growth industries. 

it would be worth exploring broadening the policy focus from strictly economic enterprises to include social and community enterprises. For, if sustainable development of the Arctic region, and of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, is a priority, then the development of their communities, in ways that are acceptable to those communities, should be a priority.

Food and Drink Innovation and Clustering in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands: review of opportunities for engagement with the Arctic Region

See Also: Putting People at the Heart of Scotland’s Arctic Dialogue

For more information visit this case study Food and Drink Innovation and Clustering in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands: review of opportunities for engagement with the Arctic Region

And for Scotland’s Arctic Framework:

Arctic Ocean credit Scotland’s Arctic policy framework

Fiona Grahame

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