Seafood businesses join industry delegation on trade visit to China and Japan –

Seafood businesses join industry delegation on trade visit to China and Japan Published:  07 November, 2012

Seventeen top Scottish food and drink companies will go to Japan and China next week as part of the largest trade mission from the sector ever to visit the countries.

The joint initiative between Scottish Development International (SDI) and Scotland Food and Drink (SF&D) will be headed up by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead and comes on the back of Scottish food and drink exports to Asia reaching a record high of more than £1 billion in 2011, with exports to Japan increasing by 25 per cent year-on-year to £91 million.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Lochhead said: “The food and drink sector is one of our greatest assets and this trade visit provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the very best of Scottish produce in two key growth markets. I hope this mission will help boost some of Scotland’s household names to be global food and drink brands on the world stage.

“Last year, the First Minister launched the Scotland Food & Drink industry strategy in Beijing – this visit is another important step in driving that work forward.

“Scotland is renowned for producing food and drink of world-class quality and companies are tapping into the huge enthusiasm by global consumers for the provenance of our food and drink, as well as its heritage and uniqueness.

“Between 2007 and 2011, food and drink exports to Japan and China have increased by a massive 87 per cent to £183 million.  However, as we work towards our new export target for 2017 of £7.1 billion, continuing the expansion in to these two export markets will be key to success.”

Mr Lochhead and the 17 companies will be joined in a week-long mission (November 11-17) by SDI Chief Executive Anne MacColl and industry leaders including SF&D Chief Executive James Withers.

Anne MacColl said: “With food and drink exports from Scotland at an all time high, it’s clear that there is a huge market out there and I’m thrilled that so many of our most ambitious Scottish companies are waking up to the opportunities presented by the global marketplace.

“The appetite for Scottish produce remains very strong, as consumers in countries across Asia are attracted by the rich heritage behind some of our brands coupled with the luxury appeal of our Scottish produce.

“This mission will allow these companies to take their first steps in exploring the Asian market, and we will continue to work with our leading industry partners and with the Scottish Government to support globally ambitious companies to achieve their international potential.”

James Withers added: “Food and drink is Scotland’s fastest growing export sector. But we are hugely ambitious about the opportunities that still lie ahead.

“We need to break into emerging markets like Asia, where there is a rapidly growing appetite for premium produce, which is Scotland’s hallmark. Our dairy sector is one example of huge potential. We have highly efficient milk producers operating to world class standards, but we need to develop new added value markets for them.

“This joint mission is a hugely significant step, with industry and government working together to build on what is already a real success story for Scotland. We have a ten year plan that seeks to almost double food and drink exports from this country. This mission could prove to be a key milestone in that journey.”

The companies taking part are: Highland Spring; Walkers Shortbread; Scotch Whisky Scotland; Diageo; First Milk; Grahams Dairy; Milk Link Processing; Hjaltland Seafarms; Loch Duart; John Vallance Seafood; East Neuk Shellfish; Croan Seafood; Associated Seafood Ltd; AK Stoddart; Mama Tea Ltd; North Highland Initiative; The Scottish Deli.

During the trade mission meetings will be held in Tokyo and Shanghai with key potential customers, from supermarkets to top hotels. Events will be held to showcase Scottish produce and continue to build Scotland’s reputation as a Land of Food and Drink. The delegation will also join 77 other countries at FHC China, a major international food and drink exhibition in Shanghai attended by nearly 30,00 Chinese buyers.