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Supporting Scottish dairy

Published: 15 Mar 2016 19:13

Summit highlights steps needed to enhance resilience.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has agreed to work with the farming industry to explore what support the Scottish Government can offer to help address immediate challenges facing the dairy sector.

Following today's dairy summit at the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary will take stock of the issues raised – including a request by the NFU Scotland to support the urgent establishment of an industry-led dairy task force involving the banking sector, and to support calls for a UK-wide review of the sector's voluntary code of practice to encourage greater uptake.

The meeting, which was chaired by Communities Minister Paul Wheelhouse and attended by representatives from the Scottish Government, NFU Scotland, processing, and retail sectors, looked at what more can be done to help the sector and how it can build on the progress made under the Scottish Government's dairy action plan.

Mr Wheelhouse commented:

"It was clear from today's meeting that there are acute challenges facing the sector right now, and there is a short-term issue that needs to be addressed immediately. I will take forward the NFU Scotland's request for Scottish Government support of an industry-led task force to the Cabinet Secretary and explore it further with officials.

"Due to my previous role as Environment Minister, and living in a rural area myself, I pay close attention to what is happening in the industry and I hope that today's meeting will help us to move forward and look at how we can improve the sales of added value Scottish dairy products, not just across Scotland but the whole of the UK, and ultimately strengthen the dairy sector again."

Mr Lochhead said:

"I will absolutely take on board the issues raised during today's meeting and will discuss these in further detail with my officials. It is clear we must work together to come up with a short-term plan. We are doing what we can to develop Scottish solutions, but it is clear that action is also needed at UK level.

"In the long-term, following today's publication of Scotland Food & Drink's study into the origin of cheddar cheese and butter in Scottish supermarkets, I would like to see the sales of Scottish cheddar cheese double across the UK over the next five years – if the industry and retailers work together we can make this a reality.

"Currently Scottish cheddar cheese is worth 5.6 per cent of the UK market – which is around £82 million – by upping sales to 11 per cent we will plough an extra £82 million each year into the sector. I believe that if consumers are aware a product is Scottish, they will be more likely to support their local producers and buy it – so I see a great opportunity here for dairy processors to look at the ways they market their products and encourage further sales of home-grown produce."

Notes to editors

The Scottish dairy sourcing report, carried out by Scotland Food & Drink, and commissioned by the Scottish Government, can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/5209

Due to personal circumstances, Mr Lochhead was unable to attend today's meeting.