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Guest Blog: Support Local by Fiona Richmond Scotland Food & Drink

smoked salmon

In this guest blog, Women in Tourism member Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food, Scotland Food & Drink, reflects on how Covid-19 has impacted on food and drink businesses, and shares updates on how many businesses have had to adapt, and the measures Scotland Food & Drink is taking to support them.

Support Local: Rebuilding the connection with the people who produce our food – by Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food, Scotland Food & Drink

Our worlds have turned upside down and everything we have taken for granted has been brought into sharp focus, not least in food and drink.  What we eat, who’s made it and where we get it from has taken on a whole new meaning.  What we’ve relied on for our own personal food pleasure has changed.

And, as we’ve witnessed and experienced the collapse of the tourism and hospitality trade, a key outlet for Scottish produce and a lifeline for producers, it’s truly hit home how much both the food and drink and tourism sectors depend on each other. If one falls then so does the other.

All around us, we’ve seen the remarkable tenacity and resilience of businesses who have adapted to the crisis. They’ve had to grit their teeth and found the strength to find new ways of doing things to keep the wolf from the door.

From restaurants and cafes doing home delivery, to farmers’ markets going online, to farm shops doing click and collect and producers developing e-commerce virtually overnight, hundreds of businesses have had to rapidly find ways to connect with the public and making their produce more easily available to shoppers up and down the land like never before. A matter of pure survival for so many.

Scotland Food & Drink, like other leadership organisations, has turned its own operations around to fight for these businesses and the future of our industry. And one of the ways we’ve done that is to create a directory called Support Local to give a helping hand to the businesses who’ve been adapting with such strength, whether that be producers, wholesalers or hospitality providers.

An online platform, it aims to make it easier for the Scottish public to source food and drink that can be delivered or collected, from Shetland to the Borders, Perthshire to Argyll.  Shoppers can find everything from cheese and bread to seafood and butcher meat, to fresh veg, beer and gin.

And given that you’re reading this as a Women in Tourism supporter, a special mention to the many female-led businesses on our directory including Sally at The Tobermory Fish Company; Wilma at The Ethical Dairy, Jill at Connage Highland Dairy; Lisa at Dear Green Coffee Roasters; Susie at East Coast Cured; Michelle at Clootie McToot Dumplings; Sascha at Hugh Grierson Organic; Jacine at Matugga Distillers; Beth at NeighbourFood Market; Carina at Contini George Street and dozens more – we salute you all.

We don’t know what the future will hold, but what we do know is that we have a chance to continue to help these businesses both survive and thrive in whatever form. And we’re sure that many of the bonds between the public and producers will hold. Over and over again, we’ve heard heart-warming stories of community spirit and the connections that are being made across the country when that special delivery of lovely local produce arrives at the door.

So, as we all continue to find our way, one thing we can all do, however small, is to play our part in helping our food and drink companies stay in business. At the same time, we can all build new relationships with the producers and providers who work so hard to bring good food to our plates.

Visit www.supportlocal.scot

Scotland Food & Drink is offering free digital routes to market workshops for any food and drink business that would like to enhance their online selling skills. Find out more: www.foodanddrink.scot/digitalworkshops

Connect with @fionarichmond8 and @scotfooddrink on Twitter