Case Study: Highland Spring

This case study is brought to you in association with Burness Paull.



Head of Sustainability must be key role in a business like Highland Spring, how long have you been in your role and what does your remit entail?

I’ve been with HSG for six years and joined the business as a senior financial analyst. However, over the past four years I have been more and more involved in our sustainability projects so it was a natural progression to take up this new role in January 2021. The company has always had incredibly strong environmental oversight. The ever-increasing focus on environmental challenges and climate change led to the decision to appoint someone to directly manage our transition to net zero and ensure our efforts on long term and permanent carbon reductions are fully focused.

What is your primary focus within the current drive towards a low carbon economy?  

Since it was founded in 1979 HSG’s core purpose has always been to provide healthy hydration in an environmentally sustainable way. So while that’s not new, the climate change imperative means that we have to look at every aspect of the business and how we can minimise our carbon footprint through credible and robust environmental policies. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do which is why the “Good Shopping Guide" has ranked Highland Spring Group the leading ethical bottled water provider for the past 13 years running with a perfect score of 100. As the UK’s leading producer of natural source water, we take our role in the circular economy seriously and want to make sure all bottles stay in the loop and provide a continuous supply of high-quality sustainable materials to use in our products. A PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle with 100% rPET (recycled) is approximately two thirds the carbon footprint of one made from 100% virgin PET. Though responsible disposal, we can harness the benefits of materials which will in turn, positively impact the environment for future generations. Every tonne plastic recycled saves 1.5 tonnes carbon which is why we actively help consumers understand that plastic is a valuable material through our consumer communications. The introduction of a well-designed Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland, England and Wales will help reduce litter and increasing recycling rates, whilst also improving the availability of high quality, UK sourced recycled materials. This will help HSG on our journey towards using 100% recycled content across our entire product range by 2025. We have also recently announced our ambition to achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to be net zero by 2040. In addition, the business has pledged to be carbon neutral against scope 1 and 2 market-based emissions by the end of 2021.

What is your view on the country’s net zero targets and how will that impact / how is that impacting on your business and others in your sector?  

We mirror Scottish/UK government aspirations to tackle the twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss and continue to work hard tirelessly to reduce our environmental footprint.  We were pleased to receive support from the Scottish and UK Governments when we announced our net zero ambition recently. The company is fully committed to engaging with customers and the wider industry on sustainability issues and the journey to net zero. For example, we were the first major brand to launch a 100% recycled and recyclable bottle and first in category to trial 100% recycled shrink wrap. Confusion around the term single use plastic can lead to well-meaning people putting 100% recyclable PET plastic drinks bottles into the general waste which is likely to have an adverse effect on the recycling rates of plastic drinks containers in the UK. We supported Hubbub on positive and engaging behaviour change initiatives in Leeds, Swansea and Edinburgh, to reduce litter and encourage the careful and responsible disposal of used products. Our view is that policy makers, public and private organisations and consumers all have a role to play in the journey to net zero, which in turn will benefit everyone. Producers are only one part of the puzzle in this area. We need the whole industry supply chain, Government, councils and NGOs to find a consistent means of communicating with consumers on how and where to recycle and to improve the infrastructure behind the recycling network. Along with others in industry we have been working with Scottish and UK Governments on the design and implementation of DRS which will support in driving up recycling rates and reducing litter.

What has been the main driver behind steps Highland Spring has been taking in this space – e.g. is it considerations around the “E” from ESG; is it a desire to tackle climate change / contribute to tackling the climate emergency; is it a financial imperative; or all of these considerations?

Any business investment decisions made at HSG are taken to balance people, planet and profit and must have positive wider community benefits, minimise our environmental impact, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the business. It does make clear business sense to invest in sustainability. Benefits such as energy efficiency and raw material savings will in turn reduces reliance on natural resources. Investment in sustainability will also futureproof the business to make sure it’s resilient in the face of emerging sustainability risks. Adopting sustainability practices can also help attract and retain employees and suppliers who want to work with responsible companies and consumers are increasingly aware of sustainability and actively choose ethical and responsible brands like HSG whenever they can.

We’re familiar with the Eco bottle range and focus on recycling, and we’re aware of Highland Spring’s new rail freight facility.  Can you tell us a bit more about these projects, for example where the ideas initiated from, and how did you go about implementing them?

Following a hugely successful trial in 2018, the 100% recycled and recyclable eco bottle became a permanent part of our range in 2019. The Eco range has been very well received by suppliers and customers alike which is great. The eco bottle is now available in a 50cl, 75cl and kids format and by the end of 2021, this will be extended to all large and small bottle sizes. Availability of quality recycled materials continues to be the limiting factor however, the implementation of a well-designed deposit return scheme will increase availability of quality recycled material to use in our bottles. Our rail project was first mooted many years ago when exploring how we could transport goods in the most environmentally sustainable way. The project has been made possible through a partnership with leading logistics company John G Russell, who have been a great help in advising us on how to futureproof our business form a logistics point of view. Strong collaborative working relationship with Network Rail and Transport Scotland have also been the key to success. The rail is very much an environmental project as there is a long payback period from a financial perspective, but the benefits to the local and wider community are significant. Once operational, our dedicated rail freight facility will remove 8,000 HGVs from the road each year. With 75% less CO2 for every tonne of freight moved by rail, this will reduce our carbon footprint by 3,200 tonnes per year. As well as moving our products more sustainably we will also be able to bring raw materials to site by rail, so there’s a real multiplier effect. Future electrification of rail freight will reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation by a further 50%. The project is a really superb example of how business and government can work together to create positive social, economic and environmental benefits through shared objectives.

How do you plan to ensure sustainability remains at the heart of business decisions for Highland Spring in the future?

We have three key pillars that are embedded in the company’s strategy, which are: Environmental Stewardship, Closing the Loop and Journey to Net Zero. We want to help influence positive behaviour change by educating consumers on sustainability, and helping them see plastic as a valuable resource that should not be treated as waste. A big focus for us going forward will be biodiversity. It is intrinsically linked with the global climate crisis and there is a lot than can be done locally to help. We will be partnering with Forth Rivers Trust to carry out scientific surveys within our catchment area to establish a biodiversity baseline. Following that, we will implement a range of recommendations and target a net increase of flora, fauna and wildlife using Nature Based Solutions by 2025. These initiatives are part of our wider sustainability initiatives, and demonstrate investment is not all centred on generating more profit – it is about the company doing the right thing in the right way to protect the planet long-term.


Read more of the Burness Paull Tales from the Larder series here.

Case study: Island Bakery Organics

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We’re a small family-owned organic bakery in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, specialising in organic biscuits. We have a staff of around 40 in total, so whilst we are one of the larger employers on the island, in the world of food production we are a minnow! We play to our strengths, by focussing on quality, provenance and the honesty of a little brand that does what it says on the tin – we are an organic bakery on an island, so Island Bakery Organics we are!

Sustainability and environmental issues are very important to us, not just because of the part of the world we come from, but because the environmental impact of food production is a major challenge facing the entire industry. So as well as using only organic ingredients* in everything we make, we also take advantage of the one resource that is in abundance on Mull – clean renewable energy. We are the only biscuit manufacturer in the world doing all our baking in wood-fired ovens. The woodfuel comes from the managed forestry that covers much of Mull, and as well as being a carbon-neutral cycle, gives the biscuits a slow and gentle bake.

* - OK, there is one exception! Isle of Mull Cheese from our family’s farm right next door to the bakery.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learned over the last few years?

Growing a business is hard work! The pandemic has obviously hit us hard – some of our largest customers were airlines and food-service operators, and they simply vanished last year. But we weren’t without challenges even before that – we recently moved away from larger-scale own-label production for a major multiple, and it has taken some time to build back from that. In the long-term it is absolutely the right thing to do, but it’s painful in the short term. In business you have to be looking years ahead, and focus on your unique strengths – that is something that has been very true lately.

And what opportunities are you looking forward to grasping in the coming years?

We have lots of new and exciting products that we spent 2020 developing, just going to market now. We are entering the savoury biscuit market for the first time, with a range of delicious cheese biscuits; oatcakes made with olive oil, and gifting tins. We have also launched a new brand - Sweet FA Gluten Free. It’s a range of really exciting and delicious cookies that our coeliac product developer Fiona Aitali has created. (That’s what the FA stands for of course!). We’re looking forward to growing both brands in the coming years, and finding new markets both at home and abroad.

What is your favourite thing about Scotland’s food and drink industry?

Scotland has a fantastic reputation for the quality of its produce, and it is well deserved. I particularly admire the small producers who innovate and have real stories to tell, and who are in the food business because they get immense satisfaction from producing the best, the tastiest, the most enjoyable food. There is nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face when they eat something you have made.

Why is it important for consumers to support Scottish producers?

Our home market is our most important, and buying from as close to home as possible is a good principle to follow. The Scottish food industry is one of the country’s most valuable and vibrant – from the farmers to the processors and retailers – and a supportive home market is invaluable to keeping it that way. Particularly for new and small producers, the home market is key. But we will only succeed if what we offer is competitive and good value for money, so Scottish producers have to earn that loyalty.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

By eating and drinking Scottish food and drink of course!

Case Study: Ayrshire Food Hub

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We opened the doors to our community farm shop and café in late spring 2021. Ayrshire Food Hub celebrates the very best of the fresh, local, and often unique produce that surrounds us. Amazing Ayrshire produce is at the heart of our dishes in the café, while our farm shop stocks fresh fruit and veg, a Morton’s milk vending machine, a zero-waste dispenser, and plenty of pantry staples from the west of Scotland and further afield.

Uniquely, all our proceeds go towards our charity work. Our parent organisation, Crossroads Community Hub, produces thousands of emergency meals every month, and runs community groups and classes throughout the local area.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learned over the last few years?

Having so many aspects to our project, we are used to changing plans and reacting to the various challenges that come our way. That being said, the level of adaptability that has been required over the past few years has been huge. Along with learning to possess this level of adaptability comes a certain amount of resilience, but also a lot of faith gained in talented and hardworking people. It’s this resilience, talent, and hard work have been fundamental to the success of the Hub.

And what opportunities are you looking forward to grasping in the coming years?

Witnessing people meeting up to socialise again has been a joy to watch. Our café and farm shop provide a safe and relaxed spot for casual get togethers over breakfast or lunch. But our Hub is also home to a flexible community space. We are really looking forward to hosting a whole range of groups and events there. Cooking classes, craft fairs, and community groups will all be welcomed to the Hub. A rural backdrop, a growing community garden, and quality local food and drink will be ever-present at the functions we host.

One positive to come out of the events of the past couple of years is that an entrepreneurial spark seems to have been ignited. The amount of new food and drink businesses that have popped up is so impressive! We stock products from several fledgling businesses and look forward to discovering new ones as the year goes on.

What is your favourite thing about Scotland’s food and drink industry?

Scotland’s food and drink industry repeatedly shows that it has all the attributes needed to make the most of the country’s incredible natural larder. Care, attention, innovation, and talent are always obvious. There is great satisfaction in knowing that Scotland’s chefs, cooks, caterers, and foodie entrepreneurs are best placed to take advantage of such fantastic produce. We are a country with a history of innovative thinkers and creators – our food and drink scene reflects that perfectly.

Why is it important for consumers to support Scottish producers?

In supporting Scottish producers, the consumer ends up with fresher produce that has travelled fewer miles. Not only does that mean that they get to enjoy better quality food and drink, but the reduced food miles cuts carbon emissions significantly. Recent months have seen several headlines about food shortages in supermarkets. Farm shops and high street food retailers have been quick to point out that their shelves have continued to be well-stocked. Consumers may be surprised about the abundance of great produce on offer from their local, independent shops. Regularly visiting your local shops or contacting local producers can lead to customers discovering some really interesting and unique products; after all, many of these producers are specialists in what they do.

We have world-renowned food and drink in Scotland. Our seafood, spirits, cheeses, butchery – among other things – all enjoy an amazing reputation. It’s important to make the most of it.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

During this year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, we will be going further with our promotion of local producers. We will launch our series of feature articles on our website – offering the opportunity for our suppliers to talk about themselves and their products. Getting to know the people and processes behind the produce can bring a new level of appreciation from consumers. It’s not just the skills and hard work that would be given attention, but the importance of local customers to these independent, often family-run businesses. This introduction to our suppliers will lead to a Meet the Makers event later this Autumn.

We’re proud to support and promote our amazing Scottish suppliers, and love being able to celebrate our role in the country’s food and drink industry as part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2021!

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2021 kicks off in national celebration of local producers

Industry body, Scotland Food & Drink, has launched its annual celebration of the sector, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight. Now in its 12th year, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2021 takes place from Saturday 4 to Sunday 19 September and will celebrate the regional diversity Scottish food and drink has to offer.

This year, Scotland Food & Drink wants to encourage more people than ever to buy, eat and promote Scottish food and drink and be part of the nation's biggest food and drink celebration.

The campaign will shine a spotlight on the nation’s best food and drink producers, the passionate chefs using local and Scottish ingredients and the national retailers, local shops, markets and cafés that are putting Scottish food and drink front and centre.

Despite a particularly turbulent 18 months for the Scottish food and drink sector, with COVID-19 and Brexit having a massive impact on suppliers and producers across the country, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2021 is all about looking forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead within the industry.

From community initiatives that started up during lockdown to the growing network of regional food groups, food and drink businesses that are embracing the Net Zero and climate change agenda to the entrepreneurs or start-ups with a fantastic new story to tell, we want to put a spotlight on it during the Fortnight.

James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said:

“We are delighted to launch this year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, celebrating all of the brilliant suppliers, producers and brand champions that our sector has to offer. Like all areas of life, Scotland’s food and drink industry has faced significant challenges in the past 18 months, but our ambition remains the same - to be a land of exceptional produce for our local communities as well as international markets.

“The industry is alive with passionate and talented people, long-established brands and young, innovative businesses who have adapted quickly, taking the challenges of the past 18 months in their stride. Supporting local producers is so important and we continue to see a real pride in what is being reared, grown and manufactured on our doorstep.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is an incredible opportunity to bring producers and consumers together, showcasing Scotland’s amazing natural larder.

“Our producers, farmers and fishers showed tremendous resilience as they navigated the pandemic, and now face the stark realities of a new operating landscape brought about by a reckless Brexit deal.

“Against this backdrop, there is no better time for people and businesses in Scotland to get behind our food and drink sector.

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight provides the perfect opportunity for more people to consume quality, nutritious and tasty Scottish produce.”

Scotland Food & Drink toasted the start of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight at Bellfield Brewery in Edinburgh. Since being established in 2015, Bellfield Brewery has built a strong reputation for producing great tasting, award winning beer that everyone can drink - all their beers are also accredited by the Vegan Society and certified by Coeliac UK.

Alistair Brown, Founder & CEO of Bellfield Brewery, added:

“We are very proud to be part of a vibrant ecosystem of independent food and drink businesses that supported each other - and got great support from consumers - thanks to the ‘support local, eat local, drink local’ ethos that emerged during lockdown and has continued with the reopening of businesses.

“The incredible growth we saw in digital sales via from April 2020 has been sustained through 2021 and we are again seeing strong demand for our beer locally and across the UK as hospitality opens up. At our brewery Taproom we partner with a different local food pop-up every weekend. It feels great to be getting back to celebrating the creativity, innovation, diversity and entrepreneurial spirit that Scotland’s food and drink businesses epitomise.”

Case Study: Glenegedale House

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Glenegedale House Islay is a Five Star Gold luxury guesthouse on the island of Islay. We are situated in the heart of the island which is great for exploring but also allows us wonderful travel links while still having sea views across the Atlantic with the most amazing sunsets

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

Our business was shut down from the 19th March until the 19th July. On March 5th, we won the highly coveted Thistle Award and this was to be “our year”. We had an occupancy for the following eight months of 98% and this was decimated overnight. However as a true island girl with an amazing husband behind me, you can either take it lying down or stand up and be counted, so we started an honesty box with fresh hen eggs from our own chooks, sold our veggies from our veggie garden and baked our hearts out and the locals supported us whole heartedly. We had a socially distanced queue every morning at the end of our drive with everyone in their cars up the drive after or before their walk along the beach in front of Glenegedale House. It was so motivational and our two children were completely involved too. It allowed us to survive both mentally as well as the business.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

Our business has changed with the model appearing slightly different and we have managed to do this without compromising on the guests experience or expectation. We were very well known for our fruit buffet as well as the hot dishes from the kitchen and for obvious reasons the buffet had to go however we are still offering the same but with it being table service. Our business had to also evolve as above with the honesty box.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

We are currently only using a third of the buildings footprint here at Glenegedale House and we have always had plans for the adjoining buildings, however these have changed with the success of the Lock Down Honesty Box. We will be developing a Bake House Tearoom with the facilities for a cook and cocktail school using local produce and foraging our island (that does involve foraging the gin and whisky ;-))

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We celebrated Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight two fold and in the best way. We started with our seafood platters and charcuterie and cheese platters here at Glenegedale with our guests and then escaped to Edinburgh and Glasgow where we sampled the East Coast Cured delights for ourselves and the fabulous Continis restaurant in Edinburgh which was a dream come true. We also squeezed in a trip to the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow which was also beautiful.

Case Study: MacDuff 1890

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We source top quality cattle from a small selection of trusted farms in the Scottish Lowlands and Borders, supplying tender, succulent and ready-to-cook beef and lamb to high-end butchers and caterers in Scotland, England and further afield.

We’re a fourth-generation family firm that is based at our plant in Wishaw. Rory Duff and his son Andrew run the company. Each morning they handpick the beef and lamb for all the day’s orders according to each customer’s specification. We ensure you get exactly what you ask for.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

It has been an extremely turbulent time for our business during the crisis. Fortunately our main market is independent high street butchers who, like us, have remained open throughout lockdown and all of us have done our best and played a small part in helping supply and feed the nation with high quality scotch beef and lamb. Keeping our staff safe during this time has been of the upmost importance and a lot of time daily is dedicated towards this with ever changing advice which needs to be implemented quickly, effectively and safely.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

Fortunately, as a meat wholesaler we have always worked to very high staff hygiene standards and numerous items of PPE are already part and parcel of the job. Social distancing and wearing of face coverings at all times in the factory is new and we have increased levels of sanitisation points across all areas. Ensuring our staff are fully trained in all the key areas of working safely during coronavirus, detailed risk assessments in place and ensuring everyone knows how and where to get tested if required.

Every year at the end of November MACDUFF 1890 host our annual carcase show and sale. This is the last one remaining that is still held in Scotland for independents. This year was meant to be our 19th annual event and it is held in very high regard being attended by some of the nation’s finest butchers, chefs and of course our producer group of farmers. It usually culminates in a large celebratory gala dinner to finish off the event in style. Sadly, we will not be able to do any of what we normally would for our show and sale this year. A farm visit then judging / auction in our factory with many usually in attendance. But as the saying goes “the show must go on” and we have been looking into collaborating with a local online auction mart to have a remote auction instead and we are even looking at investing in a WiFi system down in our factory area so that we can hopefully have remote judging via FaceTime on all the amazing scotch beef and lamb that our farmers submit to the show in the hope of becoming a prize winner or the ultimate recognition of being crowned the supreme champion! Here at MACDUFF we are just doing our best, like everyone else is, to adapt and continue to offer the top level of personal service and scotch produce to all our customers in the run up to Christmas!

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

By eating and drinking as much local and top-quality produce as possible.


Recipe: Neil Forbes, Cafe St Honoré - Cullen Skink with Cheddar Topping

Serves 4


  • 550g smoked haddock pieces
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large leek, washed, sliced and chopped
  • 500ml double cream
  • Knob of butter
  • 2 handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 handful grated cheddar
  • Good salt and pepper
  • Extra parsley for garnish



Sweat the onions in the butter in a thick-bottomed pan until translucent.

Then add the potatoes and cream.

Cook until the potatoes are just soft, then add the leek and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the smoked haddock. Stir gently until the fish is cooked, and spoon into bowls.

Make the topping by mixing the breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley.

Add to each bowl and place under the grill until bubbling and golden.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.

Case Study: Braehead Foods

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Braehead Foods are a national food wholesaler who have been in operation for over 30 years. We supply many different areas of the hospitality industry from small, family run cafes in the West of Scotland to large corporate events and stadia facilities in London. I’m also a Brand Ambassador for our sister company, The Cook School Scotland, which is run by my daughter, Aileen. The Cook School was formed in 2009 and hosts many different themed cookery classes.

No matter the size of the customer’s business, the answer is always yes, and we endeavour to supply them with the highest quality of produce. I, Braehead Foods and The Cook School Scotland have been avid supporters of the Scottish hospitality industry, supporting many causes, events, and people in the industry over the years.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

The whole hospitality industry grounded to a stop and basically didn’t move for 4 months. Our business had previously been a 24/7 operation, and this was no longer required. No hotels, no restaurants, no events, no football didn’t leave much for Braehead Foods to do.

The stark reality hit that I had circa 150 staff to look after and massively depleted revenue inflows so unfortunately, we were looking at lots of employees losing their jobs until the government furlough scheme came into place and offered us a lifeline. Over the years I’ve let people go that weren’t performing, which always bothered me, but it was really hard to let go of good people that were performing, working hard and were doing a great job. It’s one thing building a business up but being faced with having to wind it down is really difficult. From the outset I received overwhelming support from staff, customers, suppliers, banks and Scottish Enterprise.

The Cook School officially closed their doors in the middle of March, before any official government announcements were in place, in order to protect staff and the public. As yet, those doors remain closed. The nation really seemed to get a passion for cooking during lockdown which was the inspiration behind the introduction of the Cook School @ Home online Zoom classes. These classes allow the team to continue teaching our customers to cook whilst offering a social sanctuary during a time of worry and uncertainty. People were working from home, self-isolating, missing friends and family. We felt these classes would help to overcome some of these barriers and give people something to look forward to. The classes have proven to be so popular they’re now on our calendar to stay!

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

There are many negative ways that Covid-19 has impacted my business, but there have been a lot of positive changes that have been implemented to the way the business is run that will remain in place even after this crisis is over. l had the time to pause, take a step back and look at the business from top to bottom and make changes to the way we do things. I was self-isolating so by physically stepping back from the business it allowed me to concentrate on strategising and rebuilding. I made changes to delivery schedules, staffing levels, shift patterns, product mixes: all of which had been on the cards for a while, but day-to-day operations stalled the implementation. The enforced lockdown allowed me to rip the plaster off and action these changes, without which my business would not have survived.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

Our wholesale business basically reduced to nothing overnight. Panic buying had set in across the nation and being a food service business, I knew that we had the infrastructure in place to support the local community and the vulnerable within it. We started a phone and collect facility where local residents could phone their order in, drive past our factory in their cars and staff would put their goods in the boot of their cars; complying with social distancing rules and keeping both the staff and the customers safe and expanding wholesale into retail. We were sitting with thousands of pounds worth of fresh produce in stock, so this allowed us to reduce the volume of food waste that was facing the bin.

We started offering home deliveries of our produce to help those who were isolating and unable to leave their homes. With most staff out of the business, I was light on the manpower to actually carry out these deliveries. This challenge saw us collaborate with a local taxi company and they facilitated the deliveries; it was a win/win situation for both companies as I was short on drivers and they were short their usual customer base. The taxi drivers are used to navigating themselves round the back roads and cul-de-sacs of the local area whereas my drivers are more likely to be reversing a lorry up outside a five-star city centre hotel. I would never have previously considered using a taxi company to deliver Braehead produce before, having a fleet of over 20 refrigerated vans, why would I need to? Due to the location of Braehead Foods factory, the fleet of taxis turned up at 4.30am every day and all the food parcels were delivered by 5.30am, which allowed the temperature and integrity of the products to remain in place.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the local community in Kilmarnock and surrounding areas. The local hospital is visible from my premises and many of the Doctors and Nurses who work there have been loyal customers of The Cook School Scotland, the Café and the Shop over the years. I wanted to show my appreciation and support for the amazing frontline staff, so we donated food parcels with ready meals and other essentials and offered discounts and flexible collection times to accommodate their long shift patterns.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

Braehead Foods have a strong affiliation with Game produce, with the processing and supply of Game a significant part of the operations of the business since inception. Despite 2020 being a challenging year for the Game industry, there is so much fantastic grouse, pheasant, venison etc across the estates in Scotland that needs to be sung about from the rooftops.

We kicked off the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight in conjunction with The Cook School Scotland where we hosted a special Scottish Larder menu as part of our aforementioned, online Cook School @ Home classes. In the class we showcased and celebrated lots of different Scottish produce, how to cook it and where to source it. I even joined the classes myself to share interesting tales from my time in the industry.

To encourage chefs to be more open to having Game on their menu, we have been running a promotion on selected Game items made by our Production Kitchen. The promotion has been well received and is helping to raise the profile and inspire chefs of what can be created with Scottish Game. We have really enjoyed seeing what these skilled chefs have been creating with our fresh produce across theirs and our social media channels.

Case Study: Praveen Kumar

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Praveen Kumar Authentic Indian Cuisine was launched in April 2019, headed up by founder, restaurateur and entrepreneur, Praveen Kumar. Now a team of 18, we create authentic Indian curries, which have been cooked for more than a decade at Praveen’s award-winning restaurant in Perth, Tabla, and subsequently at Praveen’s Indian Cook School. Our highly skilled chefs make the meals by hand using the finest fresh ingredients in the UK, and spices imported from Praveen’s home village in Southern India. The meals are then immediately frozen to seal in the freshness and taste. Customers can either purchase the curries directly via the website or in the ever-growing network of independent stores, farm shops and delis around Scotland which stock our curries. For those who order online, the curries are delivered sustainably in a fully recyclable cardboard box.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?

The impact of the Coronavirus crisis on the business has been substantial. Sales of our frozen curries have doubled since the crisis began, with post March sales increasing our monthly turnover pre-March by 200%. Since that time, we have significantly increased investment in our marketing and have developed our cooking equipment capacity at our new premises at Perth Food and Drink Park. Currently we are selling 250,000 meals a year and anticipate this could grow to 1 million in 2021.

How has your business needed to evolve and change to operate in this environment?

We have invested more in our digital marketing specifically and employed a customer relations manager to help facilitate our ambitious growth plans and handle our social media. Since initially launching the business at the Indian Cook School premises in Perth, we have expanded to employ a team of 18 and have made a significant investment in premises at the Food and Drink Park in Perth. We are also trialling a subscriptions service, since 56% of our sales are from repeat business, which allows our customers to receive curries from us as regularly as they choose, either monthly or bimonthly.

Has it presented opportunities which you would not otherwise have considered?

The crisis has definitely presented opportunities that we would not otherwise have considered. For instance, we are trialling a corporate offer at the moment, given the fact that offices are not yet open for staff to return. For virtual staff meetings we can arrange for mailboxes of curries to be sent to all staff members at their home address before the meeting takes place. One of our chefs is available to join the zoom meeting to give a 45-minute explanation of the curries within the box. We also have plans to launch our ‘Anytime curry machine’ (ATCM), which is effectively a curry dispenser which will be available at University campuses and city centres, as well as other key locations for customer convenience. The Praveen Kumar Authentic Indian Cuisine core curry range will be available through the ATCMs.

Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We make a point of promoting local suppliers of Perthshire produce that we use within our curries all year round. However, over the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight we will be shining a stronger spotlight on our local suppliers through our marketing and through the food we serve at our restaurant, Tabla.

Recipe: The Kilted Chef - Sweet and smoky chargrilled ribeye steak with oven roasted rapeseed, rosemary potatoes and tossed rocket salad

Serves: 2


For the steak

  • 2 Ribeye steaks
  • 50ml Grouse smoky whisky
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cracked mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 Fresh red chillies, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Aberdeenshire honey
  • 2 tbsp Scottish rapeseed oil

For the potatoes

  • 250g baby new potatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Scottish rapeseed oil

For the rocket salad

  • 1 small bag of wild rocket leaves
  • 1 tsp of Aberdeenshire honey
  • 1 tbsp of Scottish rapeseed oil



Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Put 2 ribeye steaks onto a plate and allow to sit in room temperate for 15 minutes.

Spoon mustard seeds into a small saucepan along with the whisky, warm through for 2 minutes then remove from heat.

Place the rapeseed oil, diced red chillies, honey, rosemary, sea salt and cracked mixed peppercorns into a mixing bowl and stir through the warm whisky and mustard seeds.

Once mixed, place the ribeye steaks into the bowl and leave to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

Place washed new potatoes into a bowl, add rapeseed oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary and toss.

Transfer coated potatoes onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Preheat a chargrilled pan. Remove ribeye steaks from the mixing bowl and place into hot pan.

Turn steaks after 1 minute and spoon over any remaining marinade from the mixing bowl.

Continue to cook for another minute and then remove steaks from the heat, to rest for a few minutes.

Remove potatoes from the oven.

Wash rocket leaves and toss in a bowl with honey and rapeseed oil.


To serve

Preheat serving plates.

Remove steaks from chargrilled pan.

Spoon any remaining marinade on top.

Place steaks on heated plates and oven roasted potatoes into a warm bowl.

Serve the tossed rocket salad in a side bowl. Additional dram optional.