With over 1,500 Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh companies involved in the food & drink industry, the sector continues to be an important component of the sub-regional economy. It is the largest growth sector employer in the Scottish Borders employing around 5,300 people across 1,500 companies and contributes £132m GVA across the region as a whole.
Local producers such as Born in the Borders, MacSween Haggis, The Juicy Meat Co. Cuddybridge, Stewart Brewing and Tempest Brewing co. spearhead the regional offer of high quality, individualist products which align well with consumer behaviours and demand for authentic, home-grown products. Tempest Brewery was awarded Scottish Brewer of the Year at the BII Scotland Awards 2016 and featured in a recent article in the Guardian. More established brands like Macsween, Nairns and Innes & Gunn underpin to the overall sectoral strength.
VisitScotland acknowledge that enjoying Scotland's food and drink is an important part of visitors' experience, supported by the statistic that 25% of visitor spend in Scotland is on food and drink. Figures release in January 2017 by The Scottish Tourism Economic Assessment Monitor (STEAM) saw an increase in visitor food and drink spend by 20% and 6.5% in the Borders and Midlothian respectively, since the railway opened in late 2015.
Sub-regional F&D companies are being promoted and assisted through both Scottish Enterprise and by events orchestrated by Scotland Food & Drink such as the Specialty & Fine Food Fair and the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards. Such support will assist existing business growth and encourage sectoral clustering in the area.
Borders Railway Blueprint in partnership with MBTAG and Scotland Food and Drink are promoting a food & drink meet the buyer event in June 2017, which for the first time will bring together a fantastic array of local producers from across the region with a targeted buyer audience. The event, to be held in the prestigious Balmoral Hotel, will showcase the strength and depth of local food & drink production across Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders and Midlothian, with the aim of encouraging local hoteliers, restaurateurs and retails to serve local food on local plates.
Mara Seaweed has brought a taste of Scotland’s pure, wild coastline straight to the plate of the consumer. The Edinburgh based company hand harvests seaweed and converts it into various flakes and powders to use as food seasoning.
Meet its co-founder and chief executive Fiona Houston, who tells us how the Borders Railway has helped her business grow and attract fresh talent to join her workforce.
There is an abundance of small but ambitious producers across the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh who are making local, healthy and fresh produce that consumers want to eat.
Lynn Mann of Midlothian-based Supernature Oils produces multi-award winning cold pressed rapeseed oil products that have become a firm favourite of top chefs including Martin Wishart.
The company was born when founder, and former psychotherapist, Lynn and husband Chris Mann, saw a downturn in commodity prices for the wheat and barley they were growing on their site at Carrington Barns Farm near Edinburgh.
Lynn tells us how the Borders Railway gave her confidence to open a small shop selling her produce to visitors:
Tempest Brewing Co
Award-winning Scottish Borders craft beer brand Tempest Brewing Co has accrued numerous trade and business awards, including Scottish Brewery of the Year, since moving to Tweedback from Kelso.
Husband and wife team Annika and Gavin Meiklejohn said being a six minute walk from Tweedbank Station means they can easily facilitate regular brewery-based events, and it has helped them to attract staff from the Central Belt that wouldn’t have considered the company previously due to its location.
Annika tells us more: