Food and Drink

March 12, 2013
by chrisnabney

A good food nation

As the Scottish Parliament debates Scotland’s National Food Policy, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead outlines his vision of Scotland as a good food nation.

Food is vital to our lives, our environment and our economy. In the past few weeks, the horsemeat scandal has reminded society of this and has raised awareness of provenance and quality.

Consumers are asking more questions about what’s in the products they are buying and what’s on their plate – and that can only be a good thing because Scottish produce competes with the best.

Retailers and food service companies should respond by sourcing closer to home, adopting ethical purchasing policies and acting more responsibly.

This transformative moment in the food debate should change the way we think about what is on our plate – what we are eating, where it is from and how it was produced.

The horsemeat scandal has made us all pause and think.

In my view provenance is the underlining factor. Knowing where your food comes from and taking assurance from high standards.

Our £12.4 billion food and drink industry is a real Scottish strength. We are supporting that industry like never before.

From global to local, our provenance is known for quality and trust.

We should back those who do it well. That means backing Scotland.  Horsemeat has taught us the real value of these words.

Let’s make Scotland a good food nation.

January 11, 2013
by chrisnabney
1 Comment

Food Waste

Blog by Scotland’s Food Minister Richard Lochhead:

While it was undoubtedly shocking to read the headlines yesterday claiming that up to half of the world’s food is wasted, it is good to see this important issue being given a high profile.  As Scotland’s Food Minister, I am passionate about both maximising the amount of high quality food we produce and reducing the amount of food we waste.  With people going hungry around the world we each have a personal responsibility not to waste this valuable resource.

The report also claims that half the food bought in Europe is thrown away. I launched our ‘Food Waste’ campaign recently that helps Scottish households cut unnecessary food waste. Some food waste is unavoidable, bones, banana skins etc which is why food recycling services are now being rolled out across Scotland. Recycling our food waste can generate renewable energy and be turned into a fertiliser to benefit Scottish farmers.  But every year, avoidable food waste costs the Scottish public £1 billion and creates harmful greenhouse gases.

The Scottish Government has been working hard to help people save money and protect the environment. But there is only so much Government can do.  The bottom line is we all need to change the way we purchase food and our attitude to dumping it. It is the small actions that can make a difference. Next time you’re in the supermarket and see a 2 for 1 offer, think carefully about whether you and your family are going to eat it, to ensure as little as possible goes into the bin. 

For more information on the Scottish Government Food Waste campaign and lots of easy ways to cut down on the amount of food we waste visit –

November 27, 2012
by chrisnabney

Why we mustn’t CAP Scottish success

Its been ten days since I returned from the Far East trade visit and tomorrow I fly out on a less direct food and drink mission – but none the less just as critical to the industry’s success.

Brussels is the next port of call and on the agenda are two days of talks at the EU ‘Agri-Fish’ Council of Ministers. This meeting will centre on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and I’ll be working hard to promote our interests so that the new CAP delivers for Scottish farmers.

While innovative home-grown companies are doing so well to add value and successfully market Scottish products at home and abroad, it’s our farmers who are the first link in the supply chain. Without our farmers providing the primary ingredients – such as top class meats, milk, vegetables and cereals – we would not have an industry to promote in the first place.

Scotland’s landscape and climate make agriculture a challenge – yet despite this we’re able to deliver some of the world’s most sought after produce. That’s why I’ll be fighting Scotland’s corner in the CAP reform discussions, to make sure our farmers get the support they need to continue to supply the ingredients that will fuel a successful future for Scottish food and drink.

November 16, 2012
by chrisnabney

Shanghai showcase

Johnnie Walker House in Shanghai is a spectacular showcase for whisky.  In fact, Diageo call it the  world’s first whisky embassy. I had heard many great stories and it certainly lived up to its  reputation when Diageo kindly hosted a reception for the World Association of Chefs’ Societies there last night.

The house  tells the quite wonderful history of Johnnie Walker and has lots of striking memorabilia on display to help you visualise the story. And of course there is plenty of whisky available for people to sample!

Another story which has been a running theme this week is Walkers shortbread. Almost everywhere we have been in both Tokyo and Shanghai stocks the famous Scottish shortbread. Mr Walker himself has been with us on the trade mission and has been an inspirational figure for those with hopes and dreams of emulating his success. He has also had celebrity status – the excitement when people realise who he is, and the clamour for a photo with the man himself is great to see.  He now has his signature photo pose down to a fine art!

I wonder who will be Scotland’s next globally recognised food or drink figure?

Johnnie Walker in China

Johnnie Walker in China

November 15, 2012
by chrisnabney

Tokyo to Shanghai



Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead with Anne MacColl from SDI and Gissur Gudmundsson, President of World Association of Chefs' Societies.

Day 3 and a 5am start took the delegation to Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market.  It is indeed enormous and there is a real hustle and bustle about the place as people barter to buy the staggering array of fresh fish and shellfish that is available.


A Scottish produce tasting lunch and industry reception at night, both held in the British Embassy, were a huge success. And the one-to-one meetings held in between also offered a lot of promise for deals for a variety of Scottish products in the future. 


The early morning event on Wednesday saw us leave Tokyo and catch a flight to Shanghai where an industry reception was the first thing on the agenda. More than 150 people attended and the buzz in the room was just phenomenal.  Scotland is definitely on the map in Shanghai.

November 12, 2012
by Richard Lochhead
1 Comment

Richard Lochhead blogs from Japan


Richard Lochhead is taught how to make sushi using Scottish ingredients by Kazuhiro Yokoyama, executive chef at world famous Nobu restaurant, Tokyo

Richard Lochhead is taught how to make sushi using Scottish ingredients by Kazuhiro Yokoyama, executive chef at world famous Nobu restaurant, Tokyo

I am delighted to be opening this new food and drink blog with a post from the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo in Japan. 

I arrived here yesterday as part of the biggest ever food and drink delegation to visit Asia from Scotland.  From seafood to shortbread to water to tea, it is an understatement to say everyone is excited about the opportunities the Far East offers our finest producers.
The Japanese economy is the third largest in the world.  In 2011 we increased exports year on year to Japan by 25%. But we are only scratching the surface. The opportunities, like the views of Tokyo and its surrounding areas from the world’s  largest tower the Tokyo SkyTree, are seemingly endless. 
The national cuisine is of course sushi and, as I sampled as part of an exquisite traditional Japanese meal in a local Shabu Shabu restaurant last night, sushi uses a lot of high quality seafood. 
I also learned yesterday that for a variety of reasons salmon has overtaken tuna as the number one choice for sushi.  
And today I sampled our very own Scottish top quality salmon being used by one of Japan’s best chefs, in one of the world famous Nobu restaurants.  One word – fantastic!
The Tokyo experience has so far been mouth-watering in more ways than one.