Scotland Food & Drink Leadership Dinner, Glasgow

The Anchor Line – 1st November 2018

The Anchor Line provided an excellent venue for SF&D’s latest leadership dinner which, once again, gathered the great and the good from across the industry and allowed a comprehensive range of businesses to be represented.

The great value of these dinners is hearing the views of passionate experts with a huge variety of experience, from small start-ups to the international brands of Edrington, AG Barr and Tunnocks. There was an eclectic mix of ages and backgrounds which also helps understand opinions from different perspectives.

After a warm introduction by CEO James Withers, the guests were asked to discuss the problem being faced around securing and retaining a strong workforce in the Food & Drink sector. There was universal agreement that the key problem is a lack of provision of information to younger ages on the variety of opportunities in the industry and that more engagement at school level would help.

There is a lot of emphasis on ‘moving onto college or university’, forgetting that there are many students who will not choose this route and can often be left feeling that they have limited choices. Key elements worth highlighting:

  • Use parents to talk about their roles and the potential within their companies
  • Provide more complete training
  • Improve the working environments
  • Highlight the wider benefits at an earlier stage
  • Consider older workers who may find themselves looking for work unexpectedly
  • Attract returning mothers looking to get back to industry
  • Be pragmatic about location
  • Improve mechanisation in processing

There are some challenges to be considered. We need to appreciate that certain industries are restricted by what they can promote to younger people or are deemed unhealthy. Some industries are very labour intensive and a whole generation of people have moved away from traditional industries like fish and meat processing.

There was a great deal of heartfelt commentary and it is clear that people are very passionate about the subject but there is not a quick fix.

The night was rounded off in memorable fashion when industry legend Boyd Tunnock gave a short speech thanking Scotland Food & Drink, Livingston James, Anderson Anderson & Brown and Morisons LLP, performed a poem to great hilarity and then distributed Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. The perfect ending to an excellent evening.


Ben Walker

Head of Food & Drink

0131 220 2209

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