Scotland to deliver first national policy for food and drink

Posted by James Ferre on 24th June 2008

Scotland has announced progress in their quest to create their first ‘National Policy for Food and Drink’. The policy will set out to “boost the industry, support healthier and more environmentally sustainable choices and enhance Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink”.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, has floated several new measures including:

* A major campaign, led by high-profile chef Martin Wishart, to improve the quality and visibility of Scottish produce served in Scotland’s restaurants and pubs.
* A focus on food education through Scotland’s first Cooking Bus, teaching healthy, practical cooking skills to pupils, parents and community groups across the country.
* An investigation into ‘Scottish’ labelling of food and drink to help make it easier for consumers to identify and trust labels.
* Support for a world-class health and nutrition centre through the future merger of the Rowett Research Institute and Aberdeen University.
* A new Scottish Government catering contract which leads by example with greater emphasis on healthier menus, and the procurement of fresh and seasonal produce.
* An inquiry into affordable access to food, in light of the global rise in food prices.

At the Royal Highland Show’s Food Hall, Mr Lochhead claimed the future of the industry depended on reinvigoration. “The time is right for a fresh new future for Scottish food and drink,” he said. “We have listened to the people of Scotland and they have told us what their priorities are – health and nutrition, education, local food and local economies. I aim to deliver a National Food and Drink Policy which will promote Scotland’s sustainable economic growth by ensuring the focus of all food and drink-related activity by Government offers quality, health and wellbeing and sustainability, whilst recognising the need for access to affordable food for all.”

“I know that Government alone cannot bring about a change in attitude towards food and drink – winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Scotland will be key to continuing this revolution. Working together with consumers and the food and drink industry, I am confident we can achieve the freshest, finest future for Scottish food and drink,” he added.

A series of working groups to tackle issues such as healthier eating and sensible drinking, sustainability, labelling, skills and innovation have been set up.

Similar issues have been discussed globally as governments look for ways to tackle binge drinking and the obesity epidemic, while also attempting to reduce the carbon footprint of their countries in the wake of increased concern about global warming. Policy changes in many countries, including Australia, have already been implemented and new legislation is likely to continue to be introduced.

The ‘National Policy for Food and Drink’ follows the Scottish Government’s announcement of stringent initiatives to tackle binge drinking last week and they believe the new policies will benefit both consumers and the industry. “The discussion also showed an overwhelming response in favour of extending the new policy to include drinks, including both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. This policy will clearly work alongside our alcohol misuse strategy to promote more responsible attitudes to alcohol whilst contributing towards the growth of Scotland’s food and drink industry to reach £10 billion by 2017,” Mr Lochhead concluded.