Food And Drink Sector Toasts £14BN Turnover

Scotland's food and drink sector generated a record £14.3 billion turnover in 2013, according to Scottish Government analysis.

Food Secretary Richard Lochhead said turnover increased by #550 million compared to the previous year, and was up 24% since 2008.

Industry-led organisation Scotland Food and Drink aims to grow the sector to a value of £16.5 billion by 2017.

Mr Lochhead said the figures suggest the sector is on track to meet that target.

On a visit to the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, he said: ''To surpass #14 billion for the first time is simply outstanding and must give the sector real confidence.

''I am committed to seeing it thrive and flourish which is why the Scottish Government and our agencies are working closely with industry to achieve its ambitious targets, which have previously been smashed years ahead of schedule.

''It is because of this joint approach that we are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the UK, with food and drink manufacturing in Scotland, for example, growing at twice the UK rate between 2008 and 2013.''

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said: ''Breaking £14 billion for the first time is a hugely important milestone. Behind that huge figure lies individual success stories with food and drink business both large and small thriving in domestic market and international markets.

''This success is a direct outcome of the collaboration we've developed in Scotland with different organisations, government and individual companies working collectively.

''It has been a game-changer and has built a national identity for Scottish food and drink, driving growth at twice the rate of the UK average.

''No sector is without challenges. In food and drink, there are rising costs, variable exchange rates and really challenging times for farmers and fishermen who underpin the sector.

''However, the opportunities outweigh the challenges and we've earmarked over #2 billion in further growth in the next few years.''

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