Growing Scotland’s successful food and drink sector

Scotland’s food and drink sector is vitally important to our economy – the industry is worth £14.4 billion and supports 119,000 jobs across the country.

Our reputation for good food not only boosts exports but enhances our national brand and attracts visitors across the world. That’s why we are supporting the industry-led Ambition 2030 strategy – aiming to double the size of the sector over the next 12 years.  

Here’s what you need to know.

Scotland’s food and drink sector is going from strength to strength


  • Food and drink exports reached a record £5.5 billion in 2016 – up almost 55 per cent compared to 2007. And in the first half of 2017, exports from the sector were up by almost a quarter compared to the same period the previous year.
  • Food and drink industry turnover has increased by 44 per cent since 2007, to over £14 billion.
  • Whisky exports reached £4.36 billion in 2017 – up nine per cent compared to 2016. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, the UK balance of trade would be three per cent wider without the sectors contribution.
  • Salmon exports grew to £600 million in 2017, up 35 per cent compared to 2016. And employment in the salmon industry went up 13 per cent in 2016.
  • There are now 149 distilleries in Scotland compared to just 90 in 2010 – with new gin manufacturers leading the way.
  • Scottish beef and lamb exports topped £80 million in the year to August 2016 – a nine per cent increase in compared to the previous year.
  • The birth rate in new food and drink businesses in Scotland has increased 86 per cent since 2007. This compares to 78 per cent across the UK.

We’re using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to grow the sector further


  • We’re supporting businesses to export more. We are doubling the number of people working for Scottish Development International across Europe and establishing and embedding Innovation and Investment Hubs in London, Brussels, Dublin, Berlin and Paris.
  • We have allocated £65 million through our Food Processing Marketing and Cooperation Grant Scheme. This funding has supported over 220 projects, helping new businesses set-up and existing businesses expand.
  • Through the European Fisheries Fund, we have allocated £85 million to support over 1,000 seafood and fisheries projects.
  • A new £5 million regional food and drink fund will be set up. The Fund will support small local producers generate greater interest in their produce and region.
  • A Good Food Nation Bill will help everyone take pride, pleasure and benefit from the food that they buy, serve and eat. A consultation on the Bill will be brought forward in the coming year.
  • We have appointed Scotland’s first National Chef. Gary Maclean – the 2016 winner of MasterChef: the professionals – has been tasked with promoting locally sourced, healthy, sustainable and affordable Scottish food.
  • We will publish Scotland’s first national Food and Drink Tourism planrecognising the importance of tourism to the sector and the growing interest in our produce.
  • We’re working to protect Scotland’s place in the European Single Market and Customs Union. Europe is Scotland’s biggest international exports market – for our economy, jobs and trade, it is vital that we remain in the Single Market.