Mearns Ladies Probus

Members of Mearns Ladies Probus Club were delighted to learn about the work of Grampian Food Forum at their November meeting. Aberdeenshire’s Council “Food and Drink Industry Support Executive”, Elizabeth Mathie outlined the way in which the Forum supports the production and processing aspects of the North-East of Scotland’s valuable Food and Drink sector. Both the land and the sea produce high quality foodstuffs which are actively marketed in competitive conditions. Arable land is a scarce, valuable commodity in Scotland. Our area is fortunate to possess around a quarter of Scotland’s top grade arable land, an irreplaceable asset, for the production of grain, red meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables. The sea is fruitful too: Peterhead has the largest whitefish landings while Fraserburgh specialises in shellfish landings and processing. More than 5000 jobs are linked to fishing and processed products are supplied to food retailers such as Marks & Spencer’s.

The food processing sector is highly innovative, creative and competitive. Super Celebrity Chefs can generate interest and experimentation through the various media creating demand for new tastes and ingredients.

Grampian Food Forum is a partnership between the food and drink industry and public sector organizations. For more than two decades it has assisted companies, organizing networking through introduction of buyers to suppliers or through celebrations of Excellence such as the coveted “Innovation Awards”. At the glamorous Grampian Food Forum Dining Club chefs meet food producers. The annual Taste of Grampian at Thainstone offers opportunities for the public to taste and enjoy. In competition with the rest of Scotland Aberdeenshire’s food scores highly, scooping more than half the awards in a recent “Scottish Food Awards” contest.

Challenges include rising costs, energy bills, more expensive raw materials . Banks are reluctant to provide loans. The power of the supermarkets is enormous: their demands can be overwhelming for smaller companies competing for contracts. But Grampian Food Forum is there to provide support and to try to alleviate some of the impact of such challenges. By working as a facilitator it can help the industry look for solutions.

Elizabeth’s talk raised awareness of the importance of the food industry to the region and whetted appetites to go out and enjoy these wonderful products of the land and sea.

She was warmly thanked by the Club’s President Mrs Mavis Cowie.