Scotland’s food & drink offerings are more important than ever to help with economic recovery

20 October 2021

Dramatic landscapes, white sandy beaches and charming cities, towns and villages are all but a few reasons why Scotland is on so many people’s travel lists. As well as the few reasons listed, Scotland can be considered one of the world’s most attractive food destinations. Like many of us, I long for venturing abroad to fulfil my foodie/travel needs, but I do believe that we have just as much to offer, so long as you pack for all four seasons at any time of the year!

Scotland is already famous for its seafood, notably Scottish salmon which is the UK’s number one food export. Chefs and businesspeople have gotten creative in the way they feed our appreciation for local seafood, with various “seafood shack” style venues popping up across the country. Judging by the crowds and queues at Hopeman’s Bootlegger’s Bothy and North Berwick’s Lobster Shack, it should be safe to assume that these quirky outlets are often a great success with both the locals and those based further afield but more than willing to travel to them. The character of these eateries adds something extra to every visit, making for a fun day out, and feeds our increased desire for ‘experiences’ outwith our usual day-to-day lives. Not forgetting the dedicated seafood restaurants, world famous fish and chip shops, oyster bars and food vendors which we have in abundance - between the variety of menu options, dining options and price points across all establishments, we are spoilt for choice.

Fuelling the experience economy, Scotland has more recently been put on the map for its thriving street food scene, so much so, there have been various markets and festivals organised dedicated to showcasing the culinary skills of street food vendors across the country. Street food can often be more adventurous than typical eateries, offering chefs the perfect opportunity to test out more daring and cross-culture fusion dishes on the road. The growth of street food culture is expanding our palates and allowing us to taste more corners of the world from home.  

And of course, Scotland is arguably most famous for being the home of whisky, with more than 130 distilleries across the country’s five whisky regions. The Scottish whisky industry already provides excellent tourism opportunities, as visitors can partake in organised whisky tours or follow the malt whisky trail in Moray in order to understand whisky production better or to simply stock up on bottles for the home bar and enjoy a day out. For those who don’t enjoy a dram, Scotland is producing an impressive amount of award-winning craft beers and gins. From Shetland Reel, distilled on the Northern Isles, to Lilliard Gin, distilled in the Scottish Borders, and everywhere in between.

The above is only a flavour of what Scotland has to offer but it is obvious that our food and drink scene is lively and thriving. Although the last two summers have been disrupted by travel restrictions, it has forced many of us to open our eyes and appreciate what’s on our doorstep, helping support businesses in our cities, rural coastal communities and of course those along the North Coast 500 route. Businesses have gone above and beyond to provide locals and tourists with a world class experience, gaining the NC500 a reputation of the “best road trip on the planet”, according to many of its visitors since its launch in 2015.

Scotland Outlook 2030, which sets out Scotland’s tourism strategy, aims for it to become the world leader in 21st century tourism. Importantly, the strategy was developed with input from local authorities, business owners themselves, and social enterprises. While Scotland naturally has what it takes to achieve those ambitious goals, it’s important that this is achieved over time with the correct infrastructure in place to support the local and rural communities that make Scotland the destination that it is. It’s undoubtedly an exciting time for the Scottish tourism and food, drink and hospitality sectors, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what can be achieved over the next decade.

If you would like to find out more about Scotland's food and drink industry, please contact Chloe McAteer, Corporate Finance Analyst, or another member of our Food & Drink team. To find out more about how we work with Food & Drink businesses, click here.

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