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24 February 2011

(S3O-13057) Food and Drink Sector

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP):

4. To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support growth in the food and drink sector. (S3O-13057)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead): The Scottish Government and its agencies are actively supporting the food and drink sector’s growth to meet the target of £12.5 billion turnover by 2017. Since 2007, the industry has seen record figures, with turnover increasing by more than £1 billion during 2007-08 and exports increasing by 15 per cent between 2007 and 2009. It is our intention, through our national food and drink policy, to continue to help the sector to fulfil Scotland’s potential and be a world leader.

Stewart Stevenson: Given that sales of Scottish-branded food and drink in the United Kingdom have increased by 30 per cent under this Government, does the cabinet secretary believe that clear labelling of Scottish produce by protected geographic indication and Quality Meat Scotland and Marine Stewardship Council certification is essential if we are to continue to improve on that performance?

Richard Lochhead: I agree that labelling is extremely important. We are lucky in this country in that we have a reputation for top-quality food and drink. The more that we can communicate that message to the consumer—as the member indicated, not just in this country but elsewhere in these islands and overseas—the better it will be for our primary producers, processors and everyone in the food and drink sector in Scotland.

At the moment, the food regulations are making their way through the European Parliament and the European Commission. The Scottish Government is pushing for mandatory country-of-origin labelling right down to the Scottish level for all meat and dairy products, which would be a huge step forward in supporting those sectors.

Stewart Stevenson
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