We celebrated our landmark 10th annual Food & Drink Conference by returning to our new Edinburgh office and inviting delegates to attend in person. The significant interest in the event and the enthusiasm of delegates was compelling evidence of the sector's appetite for getting together again, networking and collaborating.
Our speakers and hosts discussed the sector's current experiences and planned actions around our intentionally positive theme of 'Fresh Ingredients for Resurgence'. We recognised, with the planned refresh of the sector's strategy, Ambition 2030 which will launch in spring 2023, that there was a need to contribute constructively to the discussion.
Speakers represented various stages in the supply chain. We had primary producers from Scotland's champions: distillers (The Glenturret) and salmon farmers (Bakkafrost). Each focused on investment driving market- leading standards of excellence, for which there is increasing consumer demand.
For balance, we heard, from the other end of that chain, about the national response of wholesalers and logistics providers (Bidfood) to reaching consumers during the pandemic, highlighting the positive impact of bringing genuine corporate values into the methodologies of your business and service delivery.
Food innovation and product development is naturally at the heart of growth and resurgence so delegates benefitted from a journey through the science to, as the head of the Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation (Queen Margaret University) put it, the "A-Ha!" moment.
There was considerable interest from delegates in how innovation and growth can be converted into value for business owners from a premium consumer brands investor (Inverleith), explaining the key components of value building.
With the benefit of an industry-wide perspective from Scotland Food & Drink, we explored resurgence and the issues and opportunities presented by the rise of the sustainability agenda and the drive for net zero, looking at how each speaker's business is embracing challenge and change.
So what can we take away? There is a wealth of expertise and support available in Scotland that can, and should, be tapped into businesses, large and small. The sector's agenda is forever changing with consumer trends and increasing demand for healthy ingredients and quality products. Business building in the UK is a focus for many, whilst others move our first-class products around the world. And we are intrinsically linked to the sustainability agenda.