10 Years of Food Procurement: Taking the local route to market  

Lynsey Gordon is Category Manager at Scotland Excel, Scotland’s Centre of Procurement Expertise for Local Government.

“Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is encouraging the industry to showcase and celebrate its #scotfoodgoals. At Scotland Excel one of our goals is to ensure as much homegrown Scottish produce as possible is procured through the local authority contracts we oversee.

Having worked in national food procurement at Scotland Excel for many years – food is a topic very close to me and I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken to increase Scottish produce on our contracts.

Our food portfolio includes milk, meats, frozen foods and groceries, and is worth a collective £70m a year. It helps councils source the products served up in schools, nurseries, care homes and community centres across the country.

There are lots of drivers affecting council food procurement, including the goal to procure modern, nutritious and tasty meals for pupils. This is an area we work very hard on.

Not only is 2018 the Year of the Young Person, it is also Scotland Excel’s tenth anniversary year.

Over the last decade, we’ve led the way in public food procurement and pushed our portfolio to deliver value, and quality produce for councils, while also creating wider benefits for Scotland’s economy.

Locally-sourced produce has become an increasing priority for councils, so we stepped up our role to make sure our food contracts are more accessible to Scottish businesses. We want to do what we can to make sure the power of public spending is used to boost Scotland’s economy.

Across our food portfolio, spending by councils on Scottish products has continued to rise. Over the past three years, it has increased from £8.8m to £10.9m.  Not only is this approach good for Scottish businesses, but it’s helping to create a greener Scotland by reducing food miles.

We’ve taken creative steps to achieve this. To include more Scottish produce in our groceries contract for yoghurt, butter, cheese, and margarine we included a secondary price list within the tender to allow suppliers to offer Scottish products.

As a result, a range of Scottish products are now available for councils.  And by switching their cheese to a Scottish product, local authorities have generated £1.1m of business for the Scottish cheese sector.

To bring more Scottish produce onto our meats framework, while still being in line with EU procurement regulations, we specifically asked for Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb by including Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in our tender.

And when developing our current frozen food contract, we gave suppliers the opportunity to bid to supply food only to create opportunities for smaller companies that didn’t have national delivery logistics in place.  As a result, an Aberdeenshire business secured a place to supply Scottish haddock which has created the potential for £1m of new business for this small company.

We’ve achieved a lot in ten years. In 2016, I participated in the Eating City Campus in France - an international initiative to promote sustainability in food chains and food industries.  I was proud to be asked back last year to speak about our achievements in Scotland and pass on our experience to European and American delegates.

Looking ahead to the future there are, of course, areas nationally where the sector can evolve. An increase in the production of Scottish chicken would go some way in helping to meet the current demand within the public sector for locally sourced poultry.

Scotland Excel will continue to work hard to raise the bar in food procurement. As well as creating more opportunities for Scotland’s food sector, we want to build on our achievements in healthy eating by doing what we can to bring more healthy products onto school menus.

This is, and will continue to be, a key motivation for me to make sure that we’re getting it right for these children, through our frameworks.

Scotland Food and Drink Fortnight is an excellent way to celebrate our achievements, share our innovation and look ahead to more progression.

And as Scotland Excel celebrates its tenth anniversary, I’m proud to say our food portfolio’s achievements reach far beyond what appears on plates.  It’s had a positive impact on Scotland’s economy and on our communities.”

Christie Howieson

Age: 25

Five years ago, when Christie was studying communication design at the Glasgow School of Art she would have never believed that just three and a half short years later, she would be working full-time in her own business acting as owner, cake designer and baker.

“I fell into baking by accident. I have a big family so I always baked cakes for birthdays and school bake sales, but never took it very seriously. As time went on I continued baking and started challenging myself creatively and it just grew arms and legs from there.”

Through her baking, Christie became passionate about the world of food and drink and used this as inspiration while studying a creative course at Glasgow School of Art.

“In my final year I based a lot of my work around cookbooks, celebrity chefs and food and drink design – I even went as far to write my dissertation on ‘The Cookbook’. I think a lot of

people thought I was a bit obsessed!”

After graduating, Christie started working part-time at a small drinks start-up company and continued baking on the side.

“Around Christmas time last year, they were looking to increase my hours, but my side business had really grown over the last few months. I decided to take a leap of faith and put all of my efforts into my cake business and I’ve never looked back!

“I don’t think I’ve ever get tired of meeting customers and seeing the look on their face when they see their cake for the first time. I make unique and personalised cakes so it can be very time consuming but that look makes it worthwhile.”

With the rise of social media and with people sharing information, videos and images online, Christie believes that the world of food and drink has become even more accessible for young people.

“I spend endless hours online, watching food programmes, scrolling though food bloggers and celebrity chef’s Instagram feeds looking for new ideas. This has made me realise just how extensive the industry is – there are a million and one areas where you can dip your toe in with so many training and career opportunities to suit everyone.

“Nowadays a ‘career for life’ is pretty rare but starting a business myself has really given me that drive to succeed. This last year has been tough - it’s unpredictable, it’s involved a lot of long days, it's stressful but it’s so worthwhile. I am so happy and proud of myself that I’ve made it this far.”

As a young entrepreneur, Christie’s main #ScotFoodGoals are to continue working hard and complete  the first full year in Cake Days a Week.

“I know I need to pace myself and make sure I fully understand this industry as my business grows. Over the next year or so I’m going to have to look at employing people too which is really exciting.

“I’m also hoping to develop a new cake product and maybe one day look at competing in cake competitions.”

For the industry’s #ScotFoodGoals, Christie hopes that Scotland Food & Drink will continue supporting young enterprises and continue to give them the help and advice that they need to grow in the amazing industry.

Guy Wade

Age: 22

At the tender age of just 22, Guy Wade can already add the titles of founder and director to his CV. Since May 2016 Guy has ran Screaming Peacock, a quirky street food company serving top quality wild venison burgers at events across Scotland.

“I always knew I wanted to have my own business one day. It’s something I am really passionate about, so I decided to combine this with my dad’s love for game and deer stalking and create something unique which highlights the quality and provenance of Scottish venison.”

Having previously worked in the agricultural sector, Guy knows first-hand how good Scottish game is and how sought after it is in the market.

“I wanted to do something different to stand out from the crowd. A mobile food unit seemed like a great idea as not only did it mean we could start small and work our way up, it meant we could get out and about around Scotland and meet new people. I get a real buzz from it.”

Based in Fife, Guy uses top-quality, Highland venison to make his burgers. He also jumped on a real foodie-trend by making his mobile food truck available for hire for everything from weddings and festivals to private across Scotland. Plus, with a name like Screaming Peacock, Guy knows his brand will set him apart from the competition.

“We can cater for all kinds of events and offer something really unique. Our trailer is fully kitted out and can offer a fun addition to lots of different events.”

As a young person in the industry Guy has become a passionate advocate for promoting Scottish produce, particularly with changing attitudes towards food.

“As a country I think our outlook on food is starting to change from fast but low quality, to locally-sourced, sustainable and higher quality food. I think it’s important to show consumers that there are other ways to eat and buy food. Smaller companies rising up through the ranks are embracing things like social media which, in turn, is really helpful in spreading the word about sustainable local sourcing.”

The future is looking bright for Guy and Screaming Peacock but he is combining his plans to diversify and develop his business with a more specific aim.

“My goal for the future is to have a broader range of high quality food options available and to be able to travel more widely across the country catering for different types of events.

“Sadly the demand for game is dangerously low in Scotland so I would want to see overall consumption increase. I want to help drive this because, if not, we risk affecting the wider country sports industry.”

St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Recipe Competition

St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Co is celebrating 10 years with a recipe competition during Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight!

Submit your favourite recipe using our cheese, and other Scottish produce, by 12 noon on Monday 24th September 2018.

Entries will be judged by young chef, Jamie Mackinnon of the Scottish Culinary Team in this, Scotland’s Year of Young People.
(one entry per individual)

The winning entry will receive a £50.00 gift voucher & second and third will each receive a £25.00 gift voucher to spend with us.
The winning recipes will be posted on www.standrewscheese.co.uk and www.eat-scottish.co.uk

To enter, please download the entry form and email it, along with an image, to fortnight@foodanddrink.scot

For further info about the Fortnight, please visit www.fooddrinkfort.scot

Zoe Smart

Age: 32

Like many young people leaving school, Zoe wasn’t sure what she wanted to do or what type of career she wanted to pursue. What she did know however, was that whatever she ended up doing it had to be food-related.

“I was always interested in reading the ingredients and the nutritional content on the back of packs and I am one of those people who take photographs of their food. I also enjoyed biological sciences, art & design and being practical and creative in my work.

“I found I was attracted to the food-orientated courses and after attending open days across Scotland, I decided Heriot Watt was the best option for me, so off I went to study Food Science, Technology and Management for four years with five other like-minded foodies.”

For Zoe, having organised a work placement between third and fourth year was not only valuable in her understanding of the theory but also helped build her CV before leaving and helped to boost her confidence in talking about food industry processes and procedures during interviews.

“New product development (NPD) was something I developed a real passion for when I was doing my placement but what became very clear early on was that the more experience you can get the better.”

Zoe’s first job in the field was in a technical role for a vegetable producer where she spent three months on the graduate scheme in different departments which included everything from working outdoors with the “field team” implementing a new hand wash system on moving harvesting equipment through to raw materials intake, production (high care) and taste panel learning. As a direct result she was able to understand the different specifications customers have for their products.

“This role gave me great insight into how a successful food business operated and the importance and complexity of a technical role within the food industry. However I was still keen to work in a more creative NPD position and decided to move on after gaining a year’s experience.”

Zoe’s route to Macphie involved the experience and skills she learned from her initial NPD placement where she was able to combine her technical role with working as an NPD technologist developing salads and ready meals for Marks & Spencer and another technical role working for a coffee roaster.

“I believe working hard for your grades and having an interest in what you want to do is so important The fact that I enjoyed biology and science meant it was easy to study hard to get the grades required.

“Depending on what avenue you decide to go down in the food industry, many subjects become relevant - even art & design for creative thinking and packaging design, for example.

“I would recommend biology, chemistry and physics if you want to focus on food science, research or a process engineering role. If your school offers business studies and marketing then this would provide a good foundation for understanding the commercial aspect of the business you enter.

“Building experience across different businesses and industries, gaining transferrable skills and demonstrating them at interview is important in getting the job you want.”

Now working as a channel product manager, Zoe is responsible for juggling multiple new briefs, working closely with internal and external customers to meet their aspirations and timescales.

“I really enjoy being involved in entire product development process from concept to launch.

“I work as part of the “On the Go” and “International” business units within our structure which means I get to work closely with big high street names.

“It’s very rewarding being involved in making a concept become a reality and seeing customers buying, eating and enjoying the product on the shelf.”

Ultimately it was Zoe’s interest in food and science that attracted her to pursue her chosen career. She firmly lives by the ‘field to fork’ ethos and with the UK population expected to rise sharply over the next decade, she is passionate about encouraging more new recruits into the industry which is the biggest manufacturing sector in the UK.

Harriet Shaw

Age: 24

Three years after graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2015, Harriet now finds herself travelling around the world for her role as Sales and Marketing Executive for Mackie’s Crisps.

“I studied linguistics and English language at university, but by the end of my degree knew that I wanted to work in marketing. My dad pointed me in the direction of the ScotGrad website where there were so many great opportunities for graduates in the food and drink industry, but I was immediately drawn to Mackies Crisps”.

Looking after the marketing at Mackie’s Crisps, Harriet’s role includes managing Mackie’s social media accounts & website and working on NPD & graphic design, amongst other things. As well as this, Harriet spends some of her time travelling to attend consumer and trade shows both in the UK and abroad.

“Just last month I was over in Canada at a consumer show. We were also sampling the likes of Irn Bru and Nairn’s Oatcakes and it’s was a great experience to get to show off our crisp range alongside some of the best and well-known Scottish brands.”

“I also often give talks to local schools and community groups. I love the opportunity to tell them all about our business and hear their feedback, especially when they don’t realise that our factory is just up the road in Errol.”

Although Harriet didn’t always know that she would end up working in food and drink, it’s an industry she’s always been passionate about and has been made to feel very welcome.

“It’s very much a community-like atmosphere when you attend food and drink events. Everyone is always on hand to help or there if you need advice. You can tell everyone is passionate about their products and about what they do and that’s so encouraging and inspiring.”

“I ended up in the food and drink industry via ScotGrad. This is a programme run by Scottish Enterprise to help small and medium-sized businesses find graduates in certain areas where they may lack the skillset. However, there are so many other ways to get into the industry and lots of training and learning opportunities to help everyone grow their career.”

“For young people, the food and drink industry has so much to offer – but equally young people have a lot to offer the industry. A lot of companies need support bringing their advertising and marketing to life and people who grow up native to digital are in the perfect position to help. We’re also full of creative and innovative ideas and may be able to offer ways to bring technology to the forefront of the business.”

For Harriet’s #ScotFoodGoals, she wants the Scottish food and drink industry to continue their exporting success and raising awareness for the exceptional produce made in Scotland.

“Having been lucky enough to attend some international trade shows I’m always extremely proud to hear the positive feedback we get about Scottish food & drink in general. The Asian market, in particular, love our products. As an industry collective we need to do everything we can to continue to get our messages across and make our products accessible to overseas markets”.

For her own personal goals, Harriet knows she will continue to work in the food and drink industry that she loves whilst also doing her best to spread the word on the fantastic food & drink we have on offer here in Scotland.

Akshay Tandon

Age: 30

As retail manager for award-winning craft baker JG Ross, 30-year-old Akshay has a pretty wide remit. Not only is he responsible for managing a number of retail stores in the north east of Scotland, he is an important part of helping to grow the business in different sectors and looking for opportunities for further investment.

“My role is pretty varied. Business development is a big part but I also look after financial and commercial performance, manage sales, plan and implement promotional activity, recruitment and communications. There is never a dull moment!

After completing his studies at the University of Aberdeen, Akshay started working with JG Ross on a temporary basis at a store on his university campus. Through this an opportunity came up to apply for a role which would help him on the road to his future career.

“As I had studied business management and had little experience of retail and relatively decent knowledge about the company and its products, my role grew over time. With more knowledge and understanding, I got involved further in food and drink industry.

“The Scottish food and drink industry has a very reputable image in the world. The traditional heritage products, strong support for local businesses and local produce is what attracted me.

“The most interesting thing to me though is how one product has a local touch with subtle variations as you travel across Scotland but always has the essence of the core product. Besides, it’s amazing to see how all the businesses in F&D industry here support each other to prosper together which is not very common everywhere.”

It was the reputation that Scottish food and drink has around the world that helped Akshay make his decision about what direction to take his career in. He believes young people should take full advantage of the growing importance placed on the sector.

“With the changing times, more consumers are getting health conscious as many governments are taking steps to tackle various health issues. This means that in the next decade, more importance will be given to the food and drink sector to develop products which are healthier and support the growth of various businesses and individuals.

“For anyone who is a food or drink connoisseur, it’s a great time to be a part of this exciting industry where you can try your skills and knowledge.”

Being an experienced Retail Manager, Akshay’s #ScotFoodGoals centre around the growth of a health and fitness food-to-go range. With out-of-home spending increasing, people want quick and healthy options available.

“I am working towards providing convenient fresh, locally-sourced products which customers can enjoy and are as good as home-cooked meals. It’s all about the customer’s convenience.”

Join us on Monday 3rd September for #scotfood

#Scotfood is a monthly chat on twitter and is hosted by @Eat_Scottish.

We cover a wide range of food and drink related subjects including recipe ideas, food and drink events, encouraging new entrants to the industry, products and producers!

This month’s chat takes place on Monday 3rd September and is all about Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight and our campaign #ScotFoodGoals, which runs from Sat 1st – Sun 16th September. We hope you can join us!

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is the nationwide event which supports, promotes and champions Scotland’s produce and the people who grow, make, cook and sell it.

#Scotfood will take place on Monday 3rd September from 9pm – 10pm on twitter, follow @Eat_Scottish and #scotfood

9pm Q1 Introduce yourself, include the first part of your postcode and your reason for joining #scotfood tonight #ScotFoodGoals
9.10pm Q2 It’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight so first up, we would love to know how you are celebrating this year? #scotfood #ScotFoodGoals
9.20pm Q3 What is your favourite thing about the Scottish food and drink industry? It could be anything, from the people, the passion, the innovations or a specific product…let us know! #scotfood #ScotFoodGoals
9.30pm Q4 One of the key themes this year is attracting new young talent to the industry. What are your thoughts on how we can do that? #scotfood #ScotFoodGoals
9.40pm Q5 If you could give any piece of advice to a young person already in, or thinking about joining, the food and drink industry, what would it be? #scotfood #ScotFoodGoals
9.50pm Q6 Finally, we’re encouraging everybody to share their #ScotFoodGoals, so tell us, what’s yours? #scotfood
10pm Thanks for all your tweets this evening! We love to hear about what you have been up to so keeping tweeting using #scotfood and #ScotFoodGoals

How do I get involved?

Remember to answer the questions using A1 to answer Q1 and so on and also include the #ScotFood tag, please also include pictures if relevant.

Simply tag your tweets with the hashtag #scotfood and check either www.eat-scottish.co.uk/category/scotfood or @Eat_Scottish’s twitter profile for this month’s subject area and questions.