Scottish food and drink industry chiefs are behind a new initiative to help producers grasp the opportunities of a major shift in shopper behaviour during the Covid-19 crisis.
Market research group Mintel predicts UK online grocery sales will grow by around one-third during 2020 to an estimated £16.8 billion – due to the “seismic impact” of the pandemic on the retail sector.
Other market research shows pensioners are flocking to online supermarkets like never before, doubling the amount they spend when food shopping on the internet as Covid-19 forces them to stay indoors.
The over-65s are spending 94% more on deliveries than they did this time last year, according to Kantar.
More than 120 Scottish food and drink businesses, including brewers, dairies and seafood processors, have signed up to a new online directory – supportlocal.scot – aimed at connecting customers directly with suppliers.
Set up by industry body Scotland Food and Drink (SFD), the directory is aimed at supporting producers whose traditional routes to market have been closed due to coronavirus regulations.
Lucy Husband, SFD’s market development director, said: “The impact of Covid-19 restrictions has changed the way we shop, and forced many food and drink businesses to significantly adapt their approaches.
“While more and more of us are shopping for food and drink online, the appetite for high-quality, local products remains strong.
“Our research shows that 70% of Scottish consumers believe it’s important to have locally-sourced produce available, and 49% of Scottish shoppers also claim they would be willing to pay more for Scottish produce.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s food and drink is world renowned and has been one of our most successful contributors to the economy in recent times.
“Overnight, that changed for many home grown producers and manufacturers – so it is vital that we all do what we can to support Scottish businesses.
“The new Support Local website will give people the chance to buy fantastic locally sourced and locally produced food and drink direct at the click of a button from home.”
Jill Clark, owner of Connage Highland Dairy, near Inverness, said: “Small businesses can be a lifeline for many, especially in rural areas. In turn, those who continue to shop with us are our lifeline.
“The relationship serves to reduce loneliness and keep the local economy going.
“I am optimistic that this surge in support for local shopping will continue beyond current circumstances.”