Food Secretary to highlight quality of our produce on North America visit.
Scotland's food and drink will be promoted in the USA and Canada by Food Secretary Richard Lochhead and high level industry representatives in the Year of Food and Drink.
During the visits Mr Lochhead, will meet a range of retailers and food importers to discuss opportunities for Scottish food and drink, attend an engagement with leading Canadian chefs to highlight Scotch Lamb PGI and Scotch Beef PGI, promote the newly launched Scottish dairy brand and meet with Government Ministers in the USA and Canada.
He will be accompanied for parts of the visit by the Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland Jim McLaren, Macsween of Edinburgh Managing Director James Macsween, Vice-President of National Farmers' Union Scotland Rob Livesey, and George Milne from the National Sheep Association.
These engagements will support the work of the industry in achieving the objectives set out in Scotland's Food & Drink Export Plan and build on the success of Scottish produce in the USA and Canada over recent years which has seen:
- Food and drink exports to the USA increase by 78 per cent - from £450 million in 2007 to £800 million in 2014
- 64 per cent increase in food and drink exports to Canada - from £49 million in 2007 to £81 million in 2014
Mr Lochhead said:
"From our iconic favourites such as smoked salmon and Scotch whisky to our fine cheeses and meats – Scottish food and drink is in demand around the world. Over recent years we have seen staggering increases in exports of our produce to the United States and Canada.
"With the Scottish brand seen as a hallmark for quality, we can do more and continue to grow our exports to these key markets. That is why I will undertake a series of meetings and engagements to promote our produce in North America.
"This is an important time for Scottish food in the USA and Canada. We have a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of our red meat after the Canadian Government lifted the export ban. This will be high on my agenda, together with pressing the American Government for a clear timetable for agreeing access for our beef, lamb and haggis.
"The recent international launch of the Scottish dairy brand means the time is also right to encourage importers and retailers to stock more of our delicious dairy produce and that's something I'll be discussing with importers and retailers."
NFU Scotland's Vice President Rob Livesey, who will join the Cabinet Secretary on the Washington leg of the visit, said:
"Whether looking at new, exciting markets for our iconic Scotch beef and lamb or building on existing demand for quality Scottish dairy produce, export growth is a crucial factor in delivering better returns back to our farmgate.
"As the cornerstone of our food and drink sector, the story that Scottish farmers like myself can tell about the quality of produce that leaves our farms will help drive home the message that Scotland truly is a nation worthy of doing business with."
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said this week's trip presented an exciting opportunity to further explore opportunities for Scotch Lamb PGI and Scotch Beef PGI in Canada and the USA.
"There is without doubt considerable potential for these iconic brands in North America. They have earned a global reputation for quality underpinned by our traditional livestock production methods, very much based on family farms and grazing systems which make the most of Scotland's natural landscape and abundant fresh water and grass. These attributes, along with our long-established quality assurance schemes, will be among those we will be highlighting to potential customers during our trip."
Mr Lochhead will travel on Sunday, November 8 2015 for a six day series of meetings with key retailers, importers and Government Ministers in Canada and the USA. He will be accompanied for parts of the visits by Jim McLaren, Chair of Quality Meat Scotland, James Macsween of Macsweens of Edinburgh, Vice-President of National Farmers' Union Scotland Rob Livesey, and George Milne from the National Sheep Association.
2015 is Scotland's Year of Food and Drink, which aims to celebrate Scotland's fantastic natural larder, Scottish provenance and further enhance the country's reputation as a Land of Food and Drink. It is intended that the legacy of the year will encourage the people of Scotland, and visitors, to enjoy the quality produce that is available to them on their doorstep, while also raising awareness within industry sectors, continuing the strong working relationships established across the sector beyond 2015.
The Export Plan for Scotland's food & drink industry was developed by the Scotland Food & Drink Export Partnership which comprises Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Development International, Quality Meat Scotland, Seafood Scotland, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation and Scottish Bakers, with significant financial support from the Scottish Government. The plan can be viewed at www.scotlandfoodanddrink.org/media/66630/export-strategy-0314.pdf