SCOTLAND'S FOOD and drink sector continues to shine, with the latest figures showing the sector has grown by £527 million; generating £13.9 billion in turnover in 2016, a rise of 3.9% from the previous year.

Coupled with a record £6 billion in exports last year, these latest figures have been hailed as proof that the sector is well on target to meet the ambition of doubling its value to £30 billion by 2030.

Scotland Food and Drink CEO James Withers commented: "It is fantastic to see the food and drink sector returning to growth again. Our unique strategic approach – working across industry and in partnership with the Scottish Government and its agencies – has no doubt been the game-changer and driver to this success,” he continued.

“The challenge going forward is to ensure that continued growth is reflected within the agricultural sector and achieving this is going to require new thinking across the supply chain.”

Rural Economy secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed the figures: “We’re very fortunate in Scotland to have a natural larder which is renowned the world over. We can rely on our hard-working farmers to harvest that larder, and a vibrant business community working collaboratively to sell our remarkable products, and enhance our national brands.

“As the statistics show, the net result has been a steady increase in sector growth over the past ten years, helped by a record £6 billion in exports last year. The signs are positive that we are moving in the right direction to achieve our ambition of doubling the value of Scotland’s food and drink to £30 billion by 2030," said Mr Ewing.

“We are working hard alongside the sector to help it realise its ambitions, but the continuing uncertainty being caused by Brexit threatens to destabilise our most important export market and undermine vital access to people who want to come and work here in our food and drink sector,” he added.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said that more still needs to be done to better share the success story of Scotland’s food and drink sector and for primary producers to reap the rewards of that success: “With food and drink the jewel in Scotland’s economic crown, the turnover and added value figures for 2016 show that momentum towards delivering the Ambition 2030 growth strategy for farming, fishing, food and drink is building once again.

“That growth in a key manufacturing sector has been secured against the background of static farm income figures and Ambition 2030 has recognised the need for this nation’s food and drink success story to be shared all the way back to the farmgate,” he said.

“These are uncertain times for all parts of the food and drink industry, but ambitions will only be met if the position of Scottish farmers and crofters as its cornerstone are recognised and rewarded as we move through the whole Brexit process.”

Mr McCornick concluded, “At the end of the day, agriculture must also be profitable if we are to make the most of any opportunities.”