The Scottish Government has committed to a short-term plan to deal with the “acute challenges” currently facing the dairy sector.
That was the outcome of a crisis meeting in Edinburgh between the government, NFU Scotland (NFUS) and the processing and retail sectors.
A call from NFUS for the urgent establishment of an industry-led dairy taskforce involving the banking sector, as well as a UK-wide review of the sector’s voluntary code of practice, is now being considered by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead who said the short-term issues raised at the meeting needed to be addressed immediately.
“It is clear we must work together to come up with a short-term plan. We are doing what we can to develop Scottish solutions, but it is clear that action is also needed at UK level,” said Mr Lochhead.
He added that in the long-term, following the publication of Scotland Food & Drink’s study into the origin of cheddar cheese and butter in Scottish supermarkets, he would like to see the sales of Scottish cheddar cheese double across the UK over the next five years.
“If the industry and retailers work together we can make this a reality,” he said.
“Currently Scottish cheddar cheese is worth 5.6% of the UK market – which is around £82million – by upping sales to 11% we will plough an extra £82million each year into the sector. I believe that if consumers are aware a product is Scottish, they will be more likely to support their local producers and buy it – so I see a great opportunity here for dairy processors to look at the ways they market their products and encourage further sales of home-grown produce.”