This year will hopefully be viewed as a success with increased outputs across most of the major food and drink groups all striving to help achieve Ambition 2030 against a backdrop of confusion with Brexit.

Export is a hot topic with £6 billion of sales outside the UK – but that shouldn’t blur the fact that for every £1 sold abroad we sell £3 in the UK. It is imperative that the market focuses on retaining the strong UK relationships and channels to market, whilst also capitalising on the growing desire abroad for quality products, enhanced by the recognition that Scottish produce is of an exceptionally high standard.

Scotland Food & Drink ensure that all the relevant industry bodies work together to achieve the best and their united efforts have ensured some really positive results. Highlights for 2018 include:

  • Industry worth set at over £14 billion
  • Hopes for continued growth of Scottish Salmon after it broke the £1 billion of value mark to the economy in 2017, a 37% rise on 2016
  • Over 100 distilleries operational in Scotland due to new distillery launches
  • Rapid growth in the (craft) brewing sector sees more than 160 breweries opened, delivering over £300 million
  • Scotland makes more than 50% of all the gin in the UK
  • Dairy manufacturing delivers over £500 million of value

It is often forgotten how important the industry is in the more remote parts of Scotland. The agricultural and fishing industries, regional distilleries, and many artisan food producers keep whole communities employed and support the development of secondary businesses. There is a vast amount of knowledge to be shared through generations and local communities which helps preserve the skills that create the quality in the produce.

We can’t avoid Brexit. At the moment, for this sector specifically, it brings very mixed opinions. For the large whisky manufacturers it can open up markets for them and therefore potentially help their export growth; for fishing it only works if the coastal waters are protected and destructive tariffs are not introduced. The matter of labour remains uncertain. If there is a glimmer of positivity then it is probably that the European markets want our seafood, our meat and our whisky, and are unlikely to enforce punitive tariffs. We shall see as at the moment of writing, all bets are off!

So on to 2019… There is real energy about the sector – some amazing success stories; strong growth; expanding international markets; increased foreign investment and interest; and more recognition that this is a sector that must be supported, encouraged and respected.

Livingston James has been proud to be a key supporter of Scotland Food & Drink and many of the key businesses across the sector and look forward to working with many in 2019.