Local Food in Scotland: What is it, and what can it offer? A Discussion Paper

Research output: Book/Report/Policy Brief/Technical BriefResearch report


There has been a growing interest in local food economies in Scotland (and the rest of UK and Europe) since the early 2000s. There is renewed interest in local and regional food, stimulated by the resilience shown by the sector during a prolonged period of turbulence in food supplies caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis – including impacts from the war in Ukraine.

First Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, launched Sustaining Scotland, Supplying the World: Scotland’s Food and Drink Strategy in 2023, where it is recognised that the “food and drink industry is an essential component of Scotland’s cultural identity and a significant contributor to our economy” (Mairi Gougeon, MSP). As well as having ambitious growth targets for international exports the strategy also acknowledges the growing demand for local products in local markets.

The role of local and regional foods is a topic that is under-researched, with definitional issues that means statistical profiling of the sector and its economic impact remain challenging. We therefore looked at definitions of local food, the reported advantages and disadvantages of local food, perceived barriers to local food production, and ways of measuring local food production.

We explored why it is important to have agreed definitions if the economic contribution of local and regional food economies is to be assessed. We also provide an overview of existing statistical data on the food and drink sector in Scotland, identifying data challenges and gaps.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherScotland's Rural College (SRUC)
Number of pages45
Publication statusPrint publication - Oct 2023


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