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Scottish food and drink

If you’re looking for somewhere to grow your food or drink business, Scotland is full of unique opportunities and innovation. And with the right skills, tech and research support and an abundance of natural resources, Scotland has all the ingredients to ensure your success.

Did you know?

Scotland leads the way in Europe for food production, food manufacture, food and drink research and food technology.

  • £14.9 billion turnover

    and £5.6 billion GVA

  • 122,000 employees

    already working in food and drink in Scotland

  • £30 billion target

    for turnover by 2030

Source: Scottish Economic Statistics, Scottish Enterprise February 2021

  • Sustainable food production

    Sustainability in the Scottish drinks industry 

    Beautiful unspoilt landscapes, fertile land and clean air

    Scotland has set an ambition to be among the lowest carbon and most efficient food producers in the world by 2032. And we’re on track to achieve just that. Scotland has also opted out of the production of genetically modified (GM) crops to preserve the clean, green environment that supports our food and drink sector.

    Scotland is blessed with a fantastic larder of some of the best natural produce in the world. Our food and drink producers benefit from Scotland's beautiful unspoilt landscapes, fertile land and clean air. And when you combine our world-renowned natural produce with our flair for innovation and technology, you start to see why Scotland is the ideal location for your food and drink innovation project.

Scotland's food and drink opportunities

The success of Scotch Whisky is well documented, yet our distilling industry extends far beyond whisky to world-class gin, rum and vodka. And with over 90 craft breweries producing innovative beers, Scotland has a very diverse and popular drinks industry.

Opportunities now exist for companies interested in the production of Scottish low and zero alcohol products, and for those which can contribute distilling or brewing expertise.

We also welcome companies which can support supply chain development and advise on alternative energy sources, including carbon capture from fermentation.

Read about sustainability in the Scottish drinks industry 

Contact us about low carbon opportunities in Scotland 

With a larder full of high-quality ingredients, such as oats, iron-rich vegetables and oily fish, Scotland is well placed to play a leading role in the health food revolution.

There is an opportunity for manufacturers of functional food products to locate in Scotland and benefit from the halo effect granted by using ingredients and produce with strong Scottish provenance.

Companies developing innovative products will also benefit from the expertise of our strong academic sector and join other global brands which have established innovation centres in Scotland.

Contact us about health food opportunities in Scotland  

Building on a global reputation for natural, environmentally sound food and drink products, we are keen to work with businesses to help address the challenge of making packaging as circular, waste-free and invisible as possible.

We are seeking innovation both in terms of packaging products and also potential routes to
market and/or collection models. Of particular interest are companies with smart or sensor technologies, and those which can offer 'lightweighting' solutions that help reduce packaging weight, so it takes less energy to move products.

Contact us about innovation and research opportunities in Scotland 

Scotland has a global reputation for good animal welfare, quality assurance and integrity. And our agriculture and aquaculture sectors feed into a multi-billion-pound food processing industry.

Scottish dairy herds are among the most efficient in Europe and our abundant rain and lush grass make Scotland one of the world’s best places for milk and sustainably grass-fed animal husbandry.

There are opportunities for companies with expertise in value added processing, particularly within the dairy, seafood and beef and lamb sectors, and we would welcome input from companies which can help improve our packaging and automation.

Contact us about manufacturing and processing opportunities in Scotland 

What Scotland can offer your food and drink company

Make use of the very latest tech

When you combine Scotland’s rich natural larder with our world-leading technological expertise, the result is a food and drink industry constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation. So if you’re looking for a dynamic location to undertake development, testing and implementation, think Scotland.

Scotland's tech community boasts over 90,000 people covering the full industry spectrum from application development and data analytics to robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. And, when you choose Scotland for your project, you’ll benefit from support from a whole network of innovation centres.

More about innovation in Scotland 

Find the skills and talent you need

Scotland’s food and drink industry is rich in a wide variety of skills, including farmers, fishermen and women, bakers, brewers, engineers, scientists and researchers. Each year we see more graduates leaving Scottish education with undergraduate or postgraduate degrees that lend themselves well to agriculture, food technology, food research and agritech.

When you invest in Scotland, you’ll have access to an experienced, flexible and tech-savvy talent pool, funded apprenticeships and opportunities for workforce development.

More about Scotland’s people, skills and recruitment 

Access funding and investment

You can be assured that Scotland is committed to food and drink innovation through strong government programmes and public funding, including:

  • A programme of strategic scientific research to advance the evidence base in the development of rural affairs, food and environment policies relating to key global challenges. This covers challenges such as climate change, food and water security, management of natural resources, infectious diseases and enhancing health and wellbeing.
  • Green Distillery Fund: a £10 million fund to help UK distilleries cut emissions by switching to low carbon fuels such as hydrogen
  • Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for research and innovation helps strengthen business innovation and take on the biggest challenges that society and industry face today
  • Transforming Food Production: the UK Government has granted £90 million of new funding to help businesses, researchers and industry transform food production

How we can help 

Food and drink innovation in Scotland

Scientists at the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde have developed an artificial tongue which can taste subtle differences between whiskies and will help tackle the counterfeit alcohol trade.

This is the first product of its type to use two different types of nanoscale metal ‘taste buds’, which provides more information about the ‘taste’ of each sample and allows a faster and more accurate response.

With the increasing demand for products with strong provenance, manufacturers and retailers must be able to ensure full traceability. Scottish expertise in blockchain technology is now being applied to this area. The aim is to ensure a transparent food supply chain in Scotland and to help protect and authenticate national food and drink brands.

Edinburgh Napier University has recently joined forces with Glasgow-based leading data and analytics provider Eyecademy, to use blockchain to overcome difficulties around the provenance of organic produce, by tracking down the food supply chain of ethically sourced food.

A new digital dairy project involving a consortium of research partners, dairy-processors and enabling technology companies is seeking to develop a Digital Dairy Value Chain in Scotland.

By using digital twinning, combining digital communications and high-value manufacturing, it will enable the tracing of milk, cheese and other products and provide assurance to buyers.

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) have devised a digital whisky cask filling process that could save the industry millions of pounds each year. The digital approach is set to revolutionise industry equipment, allowing it to offer a high degree of repeatability, with additional improvements to health and safety of operators and enhanced environmental impact due to reduced waste.

Several partners collaborated in the project to create an industry demonstrator, complete with innovative whisky cask filling test rig and cyber-physical system,. It also includes a digital twin that replicates the physical process in a virtual environment.

A range of organisations have come together on a mission to establish the UK as an international centre of excellence for the farming of black soldier flies and the development of related technologies.

A large-scale industrial insect farm will help the aquaculture and agriculture sectors by recycling food waste into insect-based animal feed and bio-fertiliser.

Dutch multinational Royal DSM is investing £100 million in a large-scale production facility in Scotland to manufacture its new product Bovaer®, a methane reducing feed additive for cattle.

Ardagh Group – a world-leader in glass packaging – recently announced a £15 million investment which will see its Ayrshire plant become one of the most advanced and efficient in Europe. It will use environmentally efficient end-fired technology and state of the art inspection equipment to produce glass which is infinitely recyclable.

CuanTec – a blue biotechnology company – is creating a circular economy where waste from processing of the fisheries industry is being put to good use as biodegradable food packaging which actually extends the shelf life of the fresh food it protects.

Discover how Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) is taking vertical farming to new heights, as the world grasps the environmental impact of traditional food cultivation.

Instead of planting seasonal crops in fields, IGS has invented a way to grow a year-round supply in vertical towers - producing a harvest that's organic, reliable and sustainable.

Celtic Renewables is a global biotech company based in Scotland making use of whisky by-products to make sustainable biofuel.

MiAlgae is another biotech company in Scotland producing high-quality, Omega-3 rich algae from whisky by-products that can be used as a nutrient source in aquaculture and pet food.

You might also be interested in

  • Sourcing Scottish food and drink

    Looking to buy Scottish food and drink to import to your country? Find out more about our food and drink supply chain.

  • Financial and tax incentives

    Scotland can help you fund growth in your business with our range of funding and tax incentives.

  • SoilEssentials - data and farming

    Scottish agritech firm, SoilEssentials, is transforming the agriculture industry using data from satellites, drones and weather models.

Need help?

If you have a question about food and drink opportunities in Scotland, our team of advisers can help.