Scotland’s food and beverage industry has grown significantly over the past decade and is one of the country’s largest employers.
Sales of Scottish brands in the UK have increased by 40%* in the last ten years alone. This is a staggering achievement, but with record numbers of visitors coming to Scotland, there is a strong foundation for unlocking the potential of food tourism and creating broader economic impact.
In 2018 Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Tourism Alliance launched the first Food Tourism Action Plan in Scotland. At the heart of the plan was to bring together a group of proud and passionate local ambassadors, each promoting food tourism within their own regions.
For 2021, we have appointed 24 Regional Food Tourism Ambassadors to represent the region, helping to raise Scotland’s profile as a global food tourism destination. Many of these ambassadors met in Glasgow late last year, along with representatives of regional food groups, a strong mix of talented leaders doing outstanding work across the country.
Sessions like this are a reminder that Scotland has a unique network of professionals who are passionate about food tourism opportunities. It’s no secret that the last few years have presented challenges to both the food and beverage and tourism industries, but there’s a new sense of positivity among a network of industry leaders about what the future holds.
Whether it’s Angus beef or Arbroath smoked fish, you’ll find exciting flavors everywhere you go in Scotland. Food tourism allows visitors to interact with local businesses, learn about the cultural history of produce, and discover lesser-known regional produce. Bringing together regional ambassadors to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face creates a forum for joint planning and fosters multi-regional and cross-industry food tourism experiences.
Collaboration will play a key role in delivering the Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan. The Taste of Shetland Festival, presented by Shetland Food and Drink, is a great example of a multi-partner event, last year headlined by celebrated Scottish chef and restaurateur Nick Nairn, with over 1,200 attendees. gathered visitors. Shetland Food & Drink Limited won the Regional Food and Drink category at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
There is so much to shout across our region and now for the massive food tourism session at ScotHot, Scotland’s largest food, drink, hospitality and tourism trade fair on March 8th. I am working on it. We look forward to bringing together more regional leaders. It contributes to the prosperity of Scotland’s food tourism sector.
Fiona Richmond is Head of Regional Cuisine for Scottish Food & Drink.