SCOTTISH SHOPPERS must 'vote with their feet' to support the shops, large and small, that kept the nation supplied with high quality local food during the worst of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In an open letter thanking the nation for the support that it has shown for Scottish farming, food and drink throughout the pandemic, NFU Scotland noted that supermarkets, shops and stores that had made the effort to serve their customers local food and drink over the past four months have been rewarded by strengthening sales and enhanced customer loyalty.

However, it also highlighted 'unsubstantiated reports' of a major supermarket now pressurising its suppliers to cut their prices, warning that such a destructive approach would drive value out of the food and drink chain, and impact all the way back to the farm gate.

President Andrew McCornick said: “At the outset of the pandemic, I vowed that Scottish farming would play its part in the nation’s response by keeping high quality, locally-produced food and drink on our tables and I am proud of the way that the whole of Scotland’s food and drink industry has stepped up.

“However, if unsubstantiated reports that a major food retailer, on the back of substantial sales increases in the past four months, is looking to its suppliers to reduce prices, that would be a kick in the teeth to Scottish farmers and crofters," he said.

“We are urging the public to continue to show support for our domestic food production by writing to their elected politicians and retailers on the vital importance of home produce. We ask them to highlight that our production standards must be protected now and in the future, and that they want enhanced country of origin labelling so that they can buy Scottish or British when given the choice.

“Small steps can make a big difference and the public has the ability to vote with their feet and support those businesses where the best interests of Scottish food and farming are being served.”