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Food and Drink Sector

– in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2013.

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Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with the European Commission regarding the food and drink sector. (S4O-02552)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

I regularly take the opportunity while attending Council of Ministers meetings in Brussels to promote to the Commission and, indeed, others Scotland’s fantastic food and drink industry and the growth that it has enjoyed over the past few years.

Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

Would the cabinet secretary care to give an opinion on the package of measures that was recently adopted by the EC to strengthen the regulations surrounding food consumption in the European economic community?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

I of course warmly welcome the Commission’s proposals to strengthen the regulatory controls in country-of-origin labelling, which is what the member is referring to. That will enable our food and drink sector to ensure that everyone is aware of the provenance and quality credentials of our food and drink, which more and more consumers are looking for in this country and throughout Europe.

We are paying close attention to the other issues that are part of the discussions in Brussels, such as extending country-of-origin labelling to processed products, which is clearly a very topical issue. Again, the Scottish Government will make its views known, because we want to see a proportionate extension of country-of-origin labelling.

Photo of Jamie McGrigor Jamie McGrigor Conservative

What support is available for small-scale food and drink producers in Scotland who wish to begin exporting to the European Union and elsewhere?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

That is a very good question, because there are many small food and drink producers who are already successful and beginning to export or who are new producers who wish to do that. We are working closely with Scottish Development International and other bodies such as Scotland Food and Drink to ensure that relevant support is made available. I had a meeting recently with small producers in Arran, and it was very exciting to hear about their ambitious projects to work together, which is certainly one way to do it. If small producers work together, they can perhaps bring together the kind of resources that a bigger producer might have and can have an overseas presence to get into new markets. We also want to support that.