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Top north food brands embark on Middle East adventure

Middle East consumers will be able to purchase Scottish food and drink including Walker's shortbread from the Spinneys supermarket chain over the next two weeks.
Middle East consumers will be able to purchase Scottish food and drink including Walker's shortbread from the Spinneys supermarket chain over the next two weeks.

Culinary delights including Walker’s shortbread and Baxters soups and chutneys are featuring in a showcase of Scottish food and drink brands in supermarkets across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a bid to help the sector recover from the pandemic.

For two weeks, between 17-30 January, Middle East consumers will be able to purchase Scottish food and drink brands from top performing outlets of the Spinneys supermarket chain.

The initiative is being led by trade and investment agency, Scottish Development International (SDI), and trade body Scotland Food & Drink.

In all there are 19 brands, also including Irn Bru and Nairn’s oatcakes, taking part in the showcase, which is part of the Scotland food & drink recovery plan. This is a multi-partner initiative funded by the Scottish Government to support the sector with a “smart recovery” from Covid-19 and Brexit, SDI said.

The project is designed to raise awareness of Scotland’s premium grocery sector in the UAE, and, it is hoped, increase the number of Scottish brands exporting to the Middle East.

Ali S. Ali, food and drink specialist for SDI in the Middle East, said: “Scotland’s produce is renowned in the Middle East for its quality.”

Overcoming Covid and Brexit

He said the partnership with one of the region’s largest retailers will “further highlight our food and drink industry” and “increase international sales for companies participating on this project”.

He added: “Covic-19 and other pressures have undoubtedly caused difficulties for Scotland’s food and drink exporters, however, the appetite for Scottish products remains strong, particularly here in the Middle East.

“SDI will continue to work with our partners to find innovative ways to showcase the very best Scotland has to offer in target markets.”

As part of the initiative, approximately 120 tasting/ sampling sessions of Scottish products will take place during the two weekends of the campaign. To further boost sales, there will be raffle prizes which shoppers of Scottish products at Spinneys can win.

Spinneys, founded in 1924, is a well established chain of shops with more than 65 stores across the UAE.

Highest quality standards

Warwick Gird, general manager marketing at Spinneys Dubai, said: “We are proud to source a number of great products from Scotland.

“Spinneys works hard to maintain the highest quality standards for our customers, and the products we source from Scotland are indicative of these standards.”

Scotland Food & Drink chief executive James Withers. Photo Stewart Attwood Photography

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, added: “We are hugely ambitious to drive food and drink export growth from Scotland.

“Our reputation as a ‘land of food and drink’ is growing globally and projects like this – which form part of a three-year continuous programme of action – are designed to help reach that international audience looking for premium and climate-friendly food and drink.”

The food and drink industry is worth an estimated £15 billion each year to Scotland’s economy, with more than 17,000 businesses employing approximately 120,000 people.

Food and drink remains Scotland’s top international export sector, with the latest HMRC statistics showing these exports to be worth £6.7bn in 2019.

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