The UK is rocking from the aftershocks in the wake of Brexit and
the US Election and the implications of both to the UK economy. If
anything is certain, it is that nothing is certain except that the
sun will set and rise again the following day. The full economic
consequences are not known and will change with each passing day.
There are some things that will or are likely to happen within the
food and drink sector in 2017.
Existing trade agreements will be swept aside, import tariffs
will vary – generally up, access to markets will tighten,
skilled workers will become more transient, raw material costs from
outside the UK are likely to remain higher than before for the
foreseeable future and regulation will become more complex.
Scotland is regarded globally as a land of high quality food and
drink and these products carry a premium status that presents a
tremendous opportunity for the producers, processors and suppliers
of such products.
Scotland's food and drink industry can take advantage of its
"brand" and of the global economic and political turmoil
to expand and consolidate a bigger share of the export market.
It is forecast that sales for the industry will be worth
£16.5bn by the end of 2017, with exports making up £7.1
billion of these sales. The growth year-on-year has been staggering
but there is still a huge global market untapped.
2017 is the 10th anniversary of Scotland Food and Drink, a
not-for-profit organisation created to bring together the diverse
sub-sectors within the industry to share resources and
It gives Scotland an edge ahead of most other countries around
the world because it drives Scotland the "brand" and all
Scottish food and drink products benefit. It proves that working
together helps everyone.
"Collaboration" has been the catchword for 2016 and
will remain so for 2017.
The Scotch Whisky Association acts as a trade association for
all of its members and demonstrates the importance of
Over 3% growth in Scotch Whisky sales in the first half of 2016
clearly indicates it works.
Working together can and should take many forms whether it's
technological improvement or export sales.
A common vision and a written agreement of the obligations and
rights of each party is extremely effective.
Innovation is a definite key to success – to stand still
is to fall behind. Innovation stretches right through the supply
chain "from field to fork".
From advances in growth techniques to improved production
processes to innovative packaging to brand and new product
Scotland is a centre of excellence for Agri-tech – the
means by which the world will feed itself as its resources remain
static and its population grows, covering everything from new seed
varieties to processing machinery to new product flavours.
It may not be the food and drink products that ultimately
generate the greatest revenues but the processes that can be
licensed to the world.
Capturing, protecting and commercialising such innovation
globally can see Scotland's food and drink industry become a
The food and drink industry in Scotland needs a foreign
workforce – it currently makes up more than 40% of workers in
food and drink production and the service industry.
This is even higher in certain food sectors like meat
These workers need to know how much they are valued. Crops are
not sown or harvested, foodstuffs not processed and goods are not
packaged and sold without a strong skilled workforce.
Scotland needs to retain and attract more of those that it needs
to continue to increase its production, drive its innovation and
market its larder at home and abroad.
Finally we need the continued assistance and support from the
Scottish Government through ministerial visits abroad, supporting
export initiatives via SDI and UKTI, funding innovation in Scotland
to be kept in Scotland, encouraging increased collaboration with
our academic institutions, reducing red tape to encourage
innovation, export and growth.
The challenges, both political and economic, are there and
always will be – in some form or another.
The key is to focus on specific areas for 2017 to ensure the
continued growth and success of Scotland's food and drink
In short, the sector needs to engage with representative trade
associations, collaborate, innovate, keep and grow our workforce
and ensure support is sought and provided.
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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On January 16th 2016, Implementation Day was announced. This marks the day on which the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran implemented its agreed nuclear-related commitments contained in the JCPOA.
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