Price rises could hurt Scottish produce

Squeeze on budgets could see shoppers seek alternatives from further afield

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership in April for the launch of the ‘Ambition 2030’ growth strategy.

SCOTTISH producers could be at risk from rising inflation, a new survey from YouGov has revealed, with one quarter of Scottish shoppers claiming they would stop buying local produce if they started to feel a fiscal pinch.

YouGov’s Buying Scottish Food and Drink report reveals that three quarters of Scots prefer to buy Scottish food and drink where possible, with just 18% preferring not to. However, with inflation putting pressure on family budgets, rising prices and other cost pressures could push consumers away from Scottish produce.

YouGov found that while 38% of consumers would still purchase Scottish food and drink even if they faced cost pressures, 42% would purchase the items less frequently. The research also revealed that fewer than one in ten consumers would stop buying Scottish food and drink altogether.

And while cost pressure could see some consumers shift away from Scottish produce, YouGov’s data suggests many would want to make considerable savings before switching. The research shows that were non-Scottish produce 15% cheaper one quarter of consumers would stop buying Scottish produce, however 18% would wait until a saving of 50% before abandoning locally sourced products.

The report also revealed some of the reasons Scottish consumers purchase domestically produced food and drink. Two thirds of survey participants said they buy Scottish the Scottish economy and jobs, while 56% said they believe Scottish food is better.

Kate Fillery, researcher at YouGov Reports commented on the findings: “Scots have great enthusiasm for supporting domestic products, companies and jobs – and believe their food and drink to be of good quality.

“However, economic conditions may start to squeeze consumers’ finances over the next few years as inflation rises. Should alternatives become relatively cheaper, Scottish food and drink producers could start to feel the pinch on the domestic front.

“Advertising campaigns stressing the practical and emotional impact of buying Scottish may therefore become important to producers looking to maintain market share in potentially tricky conditions.”

Scotland’s food and drink sector is currently valued by industry body Scotland Food & Drink at £14.4bn annually. The release of YouGov’s Scottish food and drink report follows the launch of Scotland Food & Drink’s Ambition 2030 strategy, which aims to more than double turnover in the sector to reach £30bn by 2030.

Speaking at the strategy launch event in April, Scotland Food & Drink chief executive James Withers acknowledged that political uncertainty could create some challenges for the industry.

“There is uncertainty ahead, with Brexit in the forefront of everybody’s mind. Whilst big political upheavals are out of the industry’s control, we can control how we develop the Scottish brand, the markets we want to sell to and the investments we make in improving skills, innovation and supply chains,” he said.