Cauld Kail

Incidentally, I saw Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, told the Huffington Post : “Food prices are rising already. Scotland hasn’t got the most benign of climates to do business. Scots are heavily dependent on importing food into Scotland and therefore highly likely to be food insecure unless they dramatically alter what they eat and how they get it. The supermarkets here are rattling their cages. Scots would be well advised to start thinking about their own food security.” Eh?

Has the prof been keeping up to date? Here’s some recent research:

The boom in the Scottish food and drink sector looks set to continue as the latest Bank of Scotland research reveals that the £12bn industry will be ramping up investment and creating jobs to target new export markets over the next five years.

The Bank of Scotland report, An Appetite for Growth: Ambition and Opportunity for Scotland’s food and drink industry, which launched today, surveyed a broad cross section of over 100 Scottish food and drink businesses with an estimated aggregate turnover of £6 billion. The results help to cement the industry’s position as one of Scotland’s fastest-growing sectors.

A mean five-year growth expectation of 19% has been reported by respondents looking to expand.

The Global Connections Survey (GCS) provides estimates of rest of the UK and overseas food and drink manufacturing exports from Scotland. The latest GCS estimates that total food and drink manufacturing exports from Scotland increased by £2.9 billion (59%) between 2002 and 2011, from a value of £4.9 billion in 2002 to £7.7 billion in 2011. Food and drink exports to the rest of the world continue to represent a larger share of overall exports, accounting for 55% of total food and drink exports from Scotland in 2011.

Food manufacturing exports accounted for 76% of Scotland’s total food and drink manufactured exports to the rest of the UK in 2011.

Or this from Scottish Development International:

Scotland’s booming food and drink industry generates over £7.5billion per year for the country’s economy, and accounts for 27 per cent manufacturing exports. The industry comprises in excess of 1500 companies, including famous global brands and small, speciality firms.

In the world of fruit and vegetables Scottish producers now grow 2,400 tonnes of raspberries and 4,600 tonnes of strawberries each year. Impressive though this is its nothing next to our potato output: over a million tonnes, cultivated on more than 3,700 holdings in Scotland, mean that the spud business is worth over £100 million a year to Scotland!

Poultry is thriving too: today approximately 900 million eggs are produced annually in Scotland, with a value of over £30 million and there are approximately 4 million egg-producing hens and 10 million chickens for meat in the country.

Dairy has always been a major industry in Scotland and now produces around 1,300 million litres of milk, worth more than £230 million.

But beef is bigger than all of these. Scottish beef has become synonymous with quality for today’s top chefs and we produce nearly 30% of the UK’s breeding cattle. Beef is now the single most important sector of Scottish agriculture, worth around £400 million a year: more than fruit, dairy and poultry combined!

Scotland’s climate and geography are also well suited to cheese making. Today there are more than two dozen cheese-makers across Scotland, ranging from the industrial cheddar creameries to much smaller-scale cheese producers. The last two decades have seen a huge revival in traditional farmhouse cheeses and new versions inspired in some cases by the soft and flavourful cheeses found in Europe and elsewhere.

However, the real jewel in Scotland’s food crown is arguably her fish market. Today there are nearly 200 shellfish farming companies are based in Scotland and Peterhead near Aberdeen has become the largest white fish landing port in Europe. Commercial fish farming now accounts for about 50% (in monetary terms) of all Scottish food exports – generating around £500 million per annum.

Special mention must go to the King of fish, the salmon. Salmon farming is the most important economic development in the Highlands and Islands over the past 30 years, and the retail sales value of Scottish salmon is around £300 million per annum. Scotland is the world’s third largest producer of Atlantic salmon and enjoys a reputation for quality fresh and added-value products such as smoked salmon.

Food security, Professor?  It is true that as a percentage Scotland has less arable land – we’ve got mountains. And there is an overall deficit of about £50m between exports and imports of food produce but out of a market value of £12 billion, that is, as they say, chicken feed. And as the government says: Per capita of population, Scotland’s agricultural sector produces more food for human consumption than the agricultural sector in the UK as a whole. In 2010, per capita production in Scotland stood at £330, whilst UK production per capita was £219.Compared to 2008, in 2009 Scottish agricultural production per capita decreased by £16. UK agricultural production per capita decreased by £11 per capita during the same period.

Most of our imports are from across the EU with a high percentage in animal feed from South America, neither at the mercy of the anti-independence Big Four supermarkets. I fear the professor’s image of a Berlin air -lift of powdered milk after independence looks a little like another of Better Together’s Silly Ideas for Christmas.

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0 thoughts on “Cauld Kail

  1. And let’s not forget the whisky industry! A global powerhouse that rivals anything even the mighty American and Chinese economies can offer. Neither has a brand than can rival even middle-priced “Scotch” and indeed are the two biggest net importers of our country’s national drink (along with that other rather significant economic powerhouse, Japan)

  2. “… highly likely to be food insecure unless they dramatically alter what they eat and how they get it.”

    The Prof is maybe alluding to Mars bars being imported? Otherwise, by “food security” is he expecting some kind of doomsday event and the end of global trade?

  3. Just finished a nice dinner of Scotch beef and potatoes washed down with a glass of Spanish red. If I vote yes will my supply of wine dry up!?

  4. Not so long ago ( within living memory! ) we in the Highlands lived on ” the fat of the land “, ie meat ,fish, veg., eggs and milk….. and managed very well without the Big Four. Perhaps they fear our return to healthy living – not forgetting the odd dram at New Year, ofcourse!

  5. Good God this guy is a professor.Did he buy his degree at Iceland?Surely the prof would want to do some research before spouting this codswalop.Where are his references and sources?Sorry I forgot you don’t need to back up claims with facts in the No campaign.You just pick something at random and make a wee story up and the press will print it to look like fact.This is the level of stupidity in the No campaign.They have a combined IQ of a slug.I also want to see this guy’s degree certificate!

  6. Just more of the same old scare stories. I wonder when they’re going to start repeating themselves as they run out of ideas.

  7. Made me think of that famous Gandhi quote, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
    Reckon we’re somewhere between stage two and three at moment, so bound to get nastier,eh?

  8. It’s incredible really isn’t it? rather than use these figures to promote a positive case for union, they choose to ignore it & pursue an utterly idiotic notion that Scotland not only has no food security, but it also depends on the union to subsidise two for one deals at tesco. You do have to wonder; as I am doing more & more, if better together actually want to win this. Increasingly I am beginning to think they want to lose this.

  9. It would not bother me in the least if the supermarkets left altogether. Since they cater to the mythical family of four, the packages they sell are all too big for me. Food at a few pence cheaper is not really a saving if you throw any of it away – and (from the last census) close to 70% of households are couples or a single.

  10. I despair about the state of UK tertiary education if this “Professor” is in fact that and not an Italian ”

    I learned when I did my studying at Uni in a related area, “food policy” was a minor element and had not reached professorial level, that Scotland was rich in natural resources and was a major producer of raw materials. We had at that stage a vibrant food processing industry, raging from soups, pasta, chocolate, baking, pressed meats and preserves. All sold to UK companies and duly relocated Sarrf.

    I could done better than the Professor with ADSL line and Google that he has done with his accumulated academic sagacity.

    The raw material sector is very vibrant and so important to the Scottish economy that it is the main driver for the retention of the £ stg after Independence.

    England is a net importer of raw foods and we are net importer of baked beans, vegetables, fruit and pre pared meals.

    If we switch back to buying locally and a fresh and not buying weekly or cheap prepared crap, the effect on the health of the populace and the economy would be very positive.

    This pull away from big supermarkets is happening as I write in France. It needs a little bit more money in our pockets, an appreciation of the benefits of real fresh food and a higher expectation of our food industry.

    It could happen but not overnight.

  11. We’ve got: fishing, aquaculture, crops, livestock, food, drinks, world class and unique distilling, brewing, financial services, banking, tourism, education, research, IT software, engineering, construction, shipping, avionics, energy, hydroelectricity & renewables, coal, oil & gas and lots of water!

    Feel free to add to my list.

  12. Project Hope Over Fear

    Most top academics inhabit a narrow world where all their focus is on their specialised subject matter and their interest in the world outside of that is often sorely limited.

    Also academics are always very worried about where their next grant is going to come from, such is the cut throat world nowadays in our universities, so its not too difficult for them to toe the partly line out of fear of their funding being jeopardised.

  13. According to Wikipedia the City University London is a former polytechnic which has become a Public Research University with very close links to the City of London finance sector, the London Inns of Court, and the London based media.

    Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair were/are graduates as as many other pillars of the British establishment.

  14. You have to ask yourself why is it that Project Fear spend so much of their time dreaming up new scare stories to frighten the Scots with and why does the MSM use up acres of newsprint repeating these without question.

    Project Fear keep telling Scots that we are a basket case after 300 years of Westminster rule and are only saved by the munificence of England, but remember this is coming from a economically hardline Westminster neo-liberal political consensus that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, and won’t even pay for a disabled persons spare bedroom.

    So is it really only the oil and gas revenues they want, or to keep their base for Trident in Scotland?

    Or is it more likely because a successful independent Scotland is a “dangerous idea” that could threaten and perhaps overthrow the very foundations of the British Establishment?

  15. Marian,
    “Or is it more likely because a successful independent Scotland is a “dangerous idea” that could threaten and perhaps overthrow the very foundations of the British Establishment?”

    That is their greatest fear. An independent Scotland can show up westminster for the lying, cheating, thieving mob they are. After independence many in the rUK are going to start asking questions about the corrupt politics of the UK. The pillars holding up their den of iniquity are being shaken and they don’t like it one little bit.

  16. The professor has just proved the old adage:
    Having qualifications doesn’t mean you have intelligence or common sense. It just means you have a bit of paper.

  17. These last three posts have been tremendous and the figures don’t even include the potatoes that I grow!
    The articles by Cate Devine in the Herald are also extremely positive about the Scottish food and drink industry and contain the same facts and reasoning.
    Surely people can’t believe this nonsense, particularly the stuff from Tim Lang, professor of food policy.
    In my many travels about Scotland I have met so many people visiting here from all over the world and they have positive reasons for visiting such as the quality of the food, the welcome and our fantastic scenery, in spite of the weather, or sometimes because of it. I never tire of telling anyone who’ll listen about this, but particularly those who say “We would have a great tourist industry if only the weather was better…”
    Yes, I still heard this even this summer, there’s none so blind…

  18. Remember a radio programme discussing how and where the BBC got all these “EXPERTS” in obscure topics from. The answer was they have register of experts. They would pick one for some obscure discipline and phone them for opinion on the subject in question. Invariably the first question the expert would ask the BBC was: Do you want me to be pro or con? How do I get paid? That’s life!

    So long as the expert had a recognised qualification they could ask to be put on the register. Evidently the register was in more than one volume. Each volume was several inches thick. Maybe THICK is the operative word.

  19. It’s a negative story from the Professor, so it gets publicity. Like the supermarket non-story.

  20. Glad to see you back, couldn’t find your website for a few days. Thanks for the information re. this idiotic professor and supermarkets subsidising us myth.

  21. cynicalHighlander

    A Professor is a title and nothing more given by ones peers for a particular discipline and this one is for inaccuracy in the face of actual facts

  22. Please, Derek; you must not let facts get in the way of a struggling professor’s pejudices.

  23. “Most top academics inhabit a narrow world where all their focus is on their specialised subject matter and their interest in the world outside of that is often sorely limited.”

    I’m sure the author of this and similar posts above see the irony of their own sweeping generalisations about professors 🙂

    I claim no special expertise on the food industry or food policy but nor do I admit to diminished common sense on the grounds of being a professor.

    Living in rural Aberdeenshire most of what I eat is sourced within 20 miles of my home. I rarely buy foodstuffs from a supermarket. I think Scotland can probably scrape by in terms of food security.

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