The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has embarked on a project designed to help members and the wider wholesale sector engage with more local producers and help them access new markets.
With hospitality businesses starting to reopen, the SWA is working with the SAOS and with support through the Scottish Government’s recovery plans, developing a Local Food Logistics strategy that will enable producers to better understand the role of the wholesale sector in the wider supply chain.
Former wholesaler John Forteith, now an industry consultant, is project lead and chairman of the steering group set up to drive the project. Comprising individuals from national and regional wholesale businesses across Scotland, it is exploring how wholesalers are currently sourcing and connecting with local food producers, manufacturers and suppliers, identifying key barriers and establishing what is needed to increase local sourcing ability.
Forteith said: “The group meets monthly and I’ve been struck by the enthusiasm and desire to help suppliers better understand the wholesale sector. This is a really important initiative designed to deliver tangible benefits for Scottish suppliers and wholesalers alike at a time when our industry needs all the help it can get to keep our wheels moving and diversify into new markets as we emerge from the pandemic.”
A survey conducted by the SWA earlier this year showed that its members’ current local/Scottish food offering is typically around 30%. Colin Smith, SWA chief executive, said: “SWA’s aspiration is to agree a target for increasing and benchmarking against this figure. Increasing this by a further 10%, for example, would be a significant boost to food and drink producers in Scotland.”
With phase one of the project looking at the barriers and developing the best way for the industry to educate and connect with producers now complete, phase two is currently in development. This is creating an industry-agreed standardised education and training programme that can be delivered either through SWA workshops or by individual members at a local level.