Investment and growth in Scotland’s food and drink sector will see around 10,000 new jobs created in the region, according to a Bank of Scotland report just a month before the region is set to vote on independence from Britain.
The bank said 66% of the 100 Scottish food and drink businesses it surveyed had plans to increase their workforces, ambitions that tallied collectively to almost 2,000 positions by 2019. If such plans were extended beyond this sample, 10,000 food and drink jobs could be created.
Graham Blair, SME area director for the Bank of Scotland, said: “Scotland’s food and drink sector is already a key growth driver for Scotland’s economy, and this report gives a taste of how it will become even stronger.
“The sector has vastly outperformed the wider economy in recent years, growing strongly during the downturn but as global economic conditions continue to improve its growth is likely to accelerate even further in the next five years.”
This time last year the Bank of Scotland predicted up to 5,600 new jobs in the Scottish food and drink industry would be created by 2018.
The report suggested exportation was both a key driver in the growth seen so far and in strategies going forward, with 58% of the companies planning to engage new international customers in the next five years. Of this chunk, 86% said they would be targeting Western Europe, while 67% had earmarked the Far East and Asia.
Yet just under half (49%) said lack of time and resources was the biggest constraint in this expansion. Meanwhile raw material price volatility (84%) and sustainability (67%) emerged as other main concerns for the sector.
Industry body Scotland Food and Drink said it had a 10-year plan to double food and drink exports, adding the sector had already come a long way from the static growth of 2007 to a 40% increase in value since.
The report followed similar figures released by Kantar Worldpanel in July showing the retail strength of Scottish food and beverage brands in the UK. At the time the Scottish government’s food minister told FoodNavigator this would install the population with confidence in the economic viability of an independent Scotland. The country will have the opportunity to vote on whether to break with the United Kingdom and become an independent country in a referendum on September 18.
The minister said Scottish and Westminster government priorities on export markets had differed in the past, with this at times holding Scotland’s industry back.