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Retailers & food companies should 'support Scottish farmers'

Published: 23 Sep 2015 15:00

Rural Affairs Secretary calls for high street coffee chains to source Scottish.

Consumers, industry and government must rally round Scotland's farmers in their time of need, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead has said.

In a debate in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Mr Lochhead revealed he has written to major high street coffee retailers urging them to switch their sourcing policy and commit to using Scottish milk and other produce.

The Cabinet Secretary also updated MSPs on work being done by the Scottish Government to support producers as Scottish agriculture copes with volatile global markets and recent poor weather conditions.

He said:

"We must all of us – governments, consumers, and food companies – do what we can to support our farmers and crofters in their hour of need.

"Retailers and the food service sector account for £200 billion of sales in the UK. In the face of very poor weather and low lamb and milk prices, these companies can clearly make a massive difference and must take their responsibilities seriously.

"Scotland's food and drink growth sector is now worth more than £14 billion and I want more of this success to filter down to primary producers and the rest of the supply chain.

"One example is the booming coffee shop sector. One in three Scots visit a coffee shop at least once a week, spending an average of £80,000 a day. Many will be shocked to learn the milk is often not Scottish, especially at a time when dairy farmers are struggling.

"However there are a few exceptions. Earlier today I visited the Aroma café in Edinburgh's Western General Hospital to recognise that chain's policy of sourcing 100 per cent Scottish milk. The major coffee chains should follow their lead.

"That is why I have written to Costa, Starbucks and other major operators in Scotland asking them to commit to following Aroma's excellent example in line with the Fairer Framework for Farming proposal that I have put to my Ministerial counterparts across the UK."

Mr Lochhead added:

"The Scottish Government is pulling out all the stops to be able to start making Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payments by the end of December.

"We are making good progress, but we have more than 21,000 applications to process and a massive number of administrative checks required in the first year of implementing the complex new CAP regime.

"It is imperative that Scotland receives a fair share of farm funding and I continue to call for an urgent meeting with the Defra Secretary of State to discuss how monies – including EU emergency aid, red meat levies and CAP support - are divided within the UK."

John Wright from NHS Scotland said:

"Aroma Coffee Bars and Rooms across Scotland are committed to sourcing locally produced fresh milk products from advised Nationally procured routes to ensure that fair pricing and consistent quality are achieved across all units. It also makes sure we have full traceability of the milk source right back to the supplier."

Robert Graham, Managing Director of Graham's Family Dairy which supplies Aroma, said:

"As a long-established Scottish dairy business we're deeply committed to our home-grown dairy industry. At every level, from our farmers to our cows, we believe in positive, sustainable investment - that's what helps us to create the very best quality produce. We were therefore delighted to last year be awarded the contract to supply the whole of NHS Scotland with its milk requirements. Local sourcing sustains domestic milk production and processing and so we are very happy to lend our support to this initiative ."

Notes to editors

Mr Lochhead has written to Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero, Greggs, McDonalds, Burger King, Pret a Manger, Subway, and Debenhams.

The payment window is set by Europe, in legislation, and goes from December 1 to June 30 the following year, however, the Scottish Government is working hard to process these claims and start making payments under the new CAP as early as we can in the payment window.