Sponsored by RBS, this year The Royal Highland Show celebrated its 177th year and continues to be one of the most impressive showcases of farming, food and rural life in Europe. Along with a huge crowd of 190,000 spread over three days, we ventured to the show to discover some of the brand-new innovations of Scottish produce, and find out why exactly food and drink is so important to the Scottish economy.
THE FOOD ARENA
When we stop to consider how rapidly Scotland’s food production has grown in the last two decades, the figures alone are staggering. Scotland’s booming food and drink industry generates over £7.5billion per year for the country’s economy and accounts for 27 percent of manufacturing exports. It employs 34,000 people and comprises in excess of 1500 companies, including famous global brands and small, specialty firms.
Needless to say, the Scottish food and drink industry looks prosperous and we couldn’t wait to get amongst the hustle bustle. Because unless you are a devoted tractor fan or love a good sheep shearing competition, there is only one thing you look forward to the most at the Royal Highland Show, the Food Arena.
Held under one giant warehouse called the Larder, here you will find hundreds of Scottish products with a great opportunity for taste testing. You can also find demonstration kitchens offering visitors suggestions on home preparations for the products on show.
One thing was clear from our time spent in the food hall, Scottish businesses are using fresh and local ingredients in their products making all of what we tried a much more authentic taste experience. You really did feel you had been given the best of what Scotland has to offer.
The highlights for us were…
- Roots – rootscollective.co.uk/
- Chocolate Tree – choctree.co.uk/
- Loch Lomond Whiskey – lochlomondwhiskies.com/
- The Fudge Kitchen – fudgekitchen.co.uk/
- Luss Smokehouse – luss-smokehouse.com/
These days’ businesses are constantly trying to stand out to the consumer, following the latest trends to come up with the next big product. So it was extremely exciting to see brands come up with flavours like Sticky Toffee Cheese, Edinburgh Rhubarb Gin and Mackie’s Haggis Crips. A real showcase of new product development. We were in the food hall for quite some time though, it wasn’t all just about the delicious
We were in the food hall for quite some time, though, it wasn’t all just about the delicious tasters. Passion was in the air and gave a unique buzz around the place. People loved being a part of their business and really believed in what they were selling. It was extremely fun to get involved with it all.
WHISKY AND SALMON, BUT WHAT ELSE?
Scotch whisky and Scottish salmon have topped the UK export chart in the first quarter of 2017 and make 22% of the total value of food and drink exports from the UK. More information on this can be found here… http://bbc.in/2tgvTbi
However, what we were interested in was what’s next for Scotland.
During the first three months of 2017, there has been a slight drop in dairy herds. Despite the decline, figures are still showing dairy cow numbers continue to grow and have increased by over 2,000 in the last six months. The highest total since 1997. These resilient figures show Scottish Dairy Farmers are far from struggling and are continuing to thrive. We see plenty of Scottish food & drink businesses going down the dairy route and expect to see the dairy industry develop even further here in Scotland.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Driven by passion, we know Scotland will continue to be a key force in food manufacturing here in the UK.
Scottish whisky, seafood and dairy remain the most popular exported products. Companies all over the world are sourcing the best quality ingredients from Scotland and fusing them in exciting new ways to produce delicious modern cuisine from traditional ingredients.
As businesses grow, so does the demand for talent. Food manufacturers need smart, innovative and passionate people to drive their business forward. For more information on the opportunities in Scotland, get in touch with Matthew Steedman and Simon Norris on 0131 226 5060.