Scotland’s larder bringing home the bacon

By Jen McClure

Scottish Whisky exported across the globe

A £1 billion boost to Scotland’s economy comes courtesy of its thriving food and drink industry.  In new figures from Scottish Annual Business Statistics (SABS), Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead announced that final sales figures  for 2007-2008 rose  from £10.2 billion  to £11.2 billion.  This puts the Scottish Government on track to meet their 2017 target of £12.5 billion.

Lochhead commented, “Scotland’s food and drink is already a fantastic success story and an industry punching well above its weight.  We have producers, suppliers, fishermen, farmers and manufacturers to be extremely proud of.  Consumers, at home and abroad, have also played a vital role by recognising Scotland’s quality food and drink sector.  Our food and drink sector continues to play a key role in Scotland’s economic recovery.”

Food and drink manufacturing in Scotland attributed to the main growth within the industry.  The drinks industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, and whisky alone accounts for £3 billion of exports annually.  AG Barr, producer of Scotland’s most popular soft drink, Irn Bru, have also shared in this success.  The company recently announced pre-tax profits of £16 million, a rise of 18% on 2009 figures.

Paul McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, comments, “While food and drink is a more robust sector than others in times of economic downturn due to consistent demand for core products, this does not mean we rest on our laurels.  The latest industry figures are very encouraging and evidence the significant progress Scotland Food and Drink is making towards delivering our mission to grow the sector to a £12.5 billion industry.”

McLaughlin continues, “The sector must invest more in the Research and Development of what is a booming industry. Given that innovation represents the future of the industry, we are addressing this as a high priority.”

This soar in the food and drink sector  mirrors a trend seen in the export industry.  Earlier this year, Scotland saw a record 6% rise in food and drink exports during 2009, brining the total value to an all-time high of £4.06 billion.  Food exports alone increased by 20%, accounting  for £934 million in overseas sales.  Scotland’s seafood industry saw a significant turnover of £555 million, with Scottish salmon alone contributing £300 million and accounting for 40% of all food exports.

This success story might be short lived as last quarter results saw a dip in the trend.  Figures released by the Government clash with Scotland’s Chief Statistician, who announced the Scottish Manufactured Exports Estimates for the second quarter of 2010.  The results showed a slight decline in food, drink and tobacco exports – down 4.4%.  This decline is against an overall growth in food, drink & tobacco over the year to June 2010 of 10.1%.

All this comes during the ‘Year of Food and Drink’ 2010, a government incentive to promote Scotland as a land of food and drink following on from last year’s ‘Homecoming’ campaign.