SCOTLAND EXCEL has called for more investment in Scottish food production to better connect producers with buyers and to ensure produce can meet demand.

This was the message submitted to the Scottish Government’s Local Food Strategy Consultation from the organisation responsible for helping Scotland's 32 councils procure food to serve in schools and other community settings.

Scotland Excel chief executive, Julie Welsh, explained: “Councils increasingly want to source local produce to keep their buying power within their communities and reduce their food miles. Investment is needed to make sure that Scottish produce can meet this demand. Investment is also needed in more efficient delivery networks that can improve the connection between producers and buyers," she continued.

“We’re seeing growing demand for plant-protein, high-quality meat and chicken products, in particular for school meals, which could be met by local producers if adequate processing facilities were accessible to them.”

Scotland Excel also recommends that training could encourage more producers to become involved in public sector tendering activity and suggested the Supplier Development Programme Scotland and Scotland Food and Drink could provide this.

The organisation has been working to bring more Scottish suppliers onto the frameworks in its food portfolio and as a result has seen spend on local products increase.

Ms Welsh added: “Across our food portfolio, spending by councils on Scottish produce has continued to rise. Over the past six years, it has increased year on year, and it now accounts for more than 37% of all spend through our food contracts. Not only is this approach good for Scottish businesses, but it’s helping to create a greener Scotland by reducing food miles.”