Rural and Environment

Importance of in-market specialists to Scotland’s Food and Drink

June 13, 2018 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

Ahead of today’s Food & Drink Global Market Insights event in Falkirk, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing outlines the importance of in-market specialists to Scotland’s food and drink industry.

“Scotland is blessed with a Natural Larder that is renowned and valued all over the world. We are a Land of Food and Drink, with a sector that is now a major driver in our economy, worth £13.5 billion annually, and supporting 115,000 jobs, via 17,000 businesses.

“The global public’s appetite for our great products – for everything from whisky to Scotch beef, from salmon to Scottish cheese, saw a record £6 billion of Scottish goods being snapped up last year. Food and drink plays a significant role in attracting people to visit Scotland too.

 “As the Cabinet Secretary responsible for supporting the growth of this great sector, I am determined we do all we can in government to stimulate business, to realise the sector’s ambition to double its value to £30 billion by 2030.

“We’re doing that by working closely with partners in the industry to develop new and existing markets, boost innovation and skills, and support local producers via business rates exemptions, and through grants schemes such as the Connect Local Regional Food Fund, which recently opened for applications.

“The success of the sector is built firmly on provenance – quality is key – and also the willingness of diverse businesses and industries to work collaboratively. But the willingness across the sector to embrace innovation is also helping drive growth. The role of our ‘In-Market Specialists’, whose work is a key focus of our £4.5m Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan, is hugely important.

“The Scotland Food and Drink partnership, comprising Scottish Government, Scottish Development International (SDI), Scotland Food and Drink (SFD) and the main exporting trade associations launched this export plan in 2014. That plan included the introduction of a network of in-market specialists, and this has proven to be a real ‘game changer’ for Scottish food and drink. These specialists are experts in international trade, and they have been doing an exemplary job in selling Scottish food and drink to the rest of the world, and connecting our sector with others around the globe.

“They are the conduit between Scotland and new, international markets – providing knowledge and advice, and creating the vital networking opportunities that businesses require to get that all important ‘foot in the door’.

“Anybody who has worked in new market development will know just how difficult, time consuming and resource-intensive that can be. That’s where the specialists come in – working closely with companies and our trade specialists to fast track companies to the right partners, usually with great effect and – more importantly – with real business secured as a result.

“On Wednesday and Thursday, the annual Scotland Food and Drink Global Market Insights Event takes place in Falkirk, bringing together some of the biggest names from home and abroad in the sector.

“Many of those attending have already benefited from the services of the in-market specialists. In the eight markets that the specialists operate in, there has been around an overall £500 million increase in exports of Scottish produce between 2015 and 2017.

“I have met with the specialists on a number of occasions now and have always been struck by their professionalism and passion for Scotland, as well as their market knowledge. They have helped showcase Scottish products in high-end retail stores in the USA; introduced Californians to Scottish oatcakes; secured listings of Scottish cheeses by the famous French cheese wholesaler Desailly; and secured listings of shortbread in more than 200 stores across China. That’s to mention just a few of their notable achievements..

“Last year in Gleneagles, our Showcasing Scotland networking event took place, bringing together 150 global buyers and 135 food and drinks businesses, who participated in what could be described as an intensive ‘speed dating’ programme.

“During the event, our trade advisors and In-Market Specialists worked in overdrive to speak to as many people as possible, and advised on how to accelerate new business opportunities for many Scottish businesses of varying sizes and experience.

“The results speak for themselves, with surveys showing a predicted £31 million of new international sales out of a total of £63 million, as a direct result of attending the event*. This represents an increase of 91% compared to the previous Showcasing Scotland event in 2015, where companies predicted £33 million total of combined new international and UK sales. The 2017 event has also seen a 71% increase in the number of Scottish companies reporting estimated new sales compared to the previous event, so we know that the format is working and becoming more and more productive each time.

“With the potential loss of tariff free and frictionless trading with the EU countries, should Scotland have to leave the EU, there are huge challenges ahead, particularly when you realise that goods sent to the European Union currently make up nearly 70% of our regional experts. So selling Scotland’s food and drink to our neighbours on the European continent, as well as around the world will become even more important. We are likely to need the expertise and enthusiasm of our trade advisors and in-market specialists in the future more than ever before, to keep promoting Scotland as a Land of Food and Drink.”

* SDI Company Evaluation Surveys


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