Scottish Produce (Processing and Marketing)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Nora Radcliffe Nora Radcliffe Liberal Democrat 11:40 am, 8th March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what action is being taken to support the processing and marketing of Scottish produce. (S2O-12309)

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

Since 2001, the Scottish Executive has awarded in excess of £60 million to Scottish food processing projects and it is presently developing new arrangements to support the processing and marketing of Scottish produce up to 2013.

Photo of Nora Radcliffe Nora Radcliffe Liberal Democrat

Does the minister agree that it is important to support and promote Scotland's food and drink producers, particularly primary producers, during the next few years of transition in the agriculture industry? Will he join me in commending the taste of Grampian initiative, whose eighth annual event will be held on 2 June at the Thainstone centre? The event, which will attract more than 100 food, drink and associated exhibitors who will show the vast range of produce that is grown, made or produced on the doorstep in the north-east, is hosted and supported by the ANM Group Ltd, Aberdeenshire Council, Grampian food forum, Scottish Enterprise, the Press and Journal and McLeish Brothers Ltd. Will the minister commend their co-operation in promoting and running an increasingly effective and successful event?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I greatly welcome the industry's recognition of the importance not only of promoting itself but of improving the links between primary producers and final consumers. I also commend the taste of Grampian initiative and the promotion that it involves.

I note from Nora Radcliffe's comments the wide range of organisations and companies that are sponsoring the event, which also reflects the improved process of integration involving primary producers right through to consumers. That work across Scotland—and in relation to the taste of Grampian initiative, in particular—is to be commended.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

The minister is aware of concerns about the seafood from Young's of Annan being exported to Thailand for processing and then re-imported. Will the minister's officials undertake to look at that seafood when it returns from its long journey to Thailand and back, to ensure that there is no danger of its being mistaken for Scottish produce?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I do not know whether the member recalls this—I know Stewart Stevenson will—but, curiously enough, a year or two ago, there were proposals in the white fish sector to ship a container-load of white fish to the far east, where incredibly low prices were being charged for filleting, and to bring it back to Scotland. However, that produce was being sold to the retail market, and retailers would not accept any claims about its traceability. Although I do not want to speculate about where Young's produce might be sold, traceability will certainly be a key issue.

As for checking the seafood in question, we would be very concerned if someone tried to promote a product whose traceability could not be assured. Moreover, I find it instructive that one or two of our major retailers—who are, for once, to be commended—have recently announced their intention to increase their local sourcing and improve labelling to ensure that we are more aware of a product's source and any food miles that might be involved.