The findings come from the published report of the Food Security and Supply Taskforce, which was jointly set up with the food and drink industry to respond to any potential disruption to food security and supply resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including the establishment of a new Food Security unit within the Scottish Government. It also recommended: supporting improved cash flow for individual businesses and farmers; setting up a digital gateway, specifically for the food and drink sector; and highlighting support available to businesses.
It also said that the Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland would seek to open engagement with the Groceries Adjudicator and the Competition and Markets Authority to ask them what scope they have to seek assurance and assess whether current behaviours in the food supply chain are working in the long-term interests of consumer choice, food security and retailers.
It also encouraged the UK Government to look at how the 'fair dealing' powers in the Agriculture Act 2020 might be used more broadly to ensure fair treatment of agricultural producers. Plus, it will urge the UK Government to support the sector which will include addressing critical infrastructure issues, combatting acute post-Brexit skills shortages and addressing calls for further action on the soaring price of fuel and energy.
The report also proposes that the Scottish Government seek to engage with the UK Government, the EU and other international food security structures, including European Food Security Preparedness.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global food system and the impacts are being felt by producers and consumers in Scotland.
“This has compounded the challenging operating environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the hard Brexit imposed on Scotland by the UK Government, which has inflicted significant and lasting damage on our world class food and drink industries, rural and coastal communities.”
The report comes as earlier this month Scotland passed a bill committing to being a Good Food Nation, where people take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day.
Good Food Nation Bill
The Good Food Nation Bill enshrines in law the Scottish Government’s approach to create links between policy at the national and local levels, with Government, local authorities and health boards all creating good food nation plans.
A Food Commission will also be established for scrutinising and making recommendations in relation to the good food nation plans and progress reports, conducting research and providing advice to Scottish Ministers and relevant authorities in carrying out their duties under the Bill.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The Good Food Nation Bill reinforces our commitment to ensuring that everyone in Scotland has access to healthy, nutritious fare and that businesses and public kitchens commit to producing, selling and serving good food.
“Organisations can play a leading role in this process – looking at how they boost local procurement, cut down food waste and packaging and use in-season produce as well disposing of food waste in an environmentally friendly way.
“In addition, food education can equip school pupils with the key skills they need to cook tasty, nutritious meals using the incredible array of world-class produce we have, and also make informed food choices when they are away from home.”