If the outside temperature of this year’s Scottish Speciality Food Show in Glasgow can only be described as ‘baltic’, the overarching temperature inside was red hot with buoyant optimism. Optimism firstly for the quality, breadth and scope of what Scotland’s currently producing and exporting, especially in terms of speciality crafts and artisan produce – bear in mind Scotch whisky alone accounts for 25% of total UK food and drink exports. But there was also a tangible excitement in the air for ‘brand Scotland’ itself; an export the Scottish government is keen to see significant growth in this year.
The Scottish Speciality Food Show and its larger parent exhibition, Scotland’s Trade Fair is in its 8th year. We’ve visited and exhibited in the past and come away with mixed feelings. So for someone with roots in Scotland, I was particularly excited to see a change of mood, if not a positive change of pace. For a start, a whopping 450 exhibitors attended this year, they included giftware, homewares, jewellery, fashion accessories, clothing, textiles and of course, food and drink. When you think that Speciality Food Fair in London attracts approximately 650, that’s not bad going. But what was particularly impressive was that a third of all exhibitors were new, including for the first time, a purpose built ‘Launch Gallery’ for young up and coming producers and awards for Best Product.
And if the scale of entrepreneurship wasn’t enough to bat home the idea that Scotland’s produce is not just on the world map, but contributing in no small numbers to the UK’s economy as a whole, then the seminars certainly did. Featuring leading industry experts such as Giftware Association’s, Isabel Martinson and Chief Executive Officer of Scotland Food & Drink, James Withers, speakers from a range of retail disciplines did their bit to inspire and fly the Scottish banner.
I took notes on three seminars: Setting up in gift retailing, online and offline, How to grow your business through social media and Opportunities for businesses in Scotland Year of Food and Drink 2015. I’ll post these as separate blogs for those who couldn’t attend. But for now, here are some photos of the show. And If you’ve been considering paying Scotland’s Trade Fair a visit yourself, do it – it’s worth it. You might freeze but then the Scots will soon warm you up, but most importantly, Scottish products sell – so whatever you do, if you’re a retailer, check out the exhibitors list and start selling them.