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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Body aims to boost food industry
Richard Lochhead
Richard Lochhead welcomed the creation of the new body
A new organisation has been launched with the aim of boosting the value of Scotland's food and drink industry to 10bn in the next decade.

Representatives from all parts of the sector have come together for the first time to create the body, known as Scotland Food and Drink.

At present the industry's annual sales stand at 7.57bn, with exports accounting for more than 3.5bn.

The move comes in response to increasing worldwide competition.

Richard Lochhead, the new rural affairs and environment secretary, welcomed the new step to promote the industry.

In the face of global competition it is clear we must harness our collective resources and pull together the skills and energy of the entire supply chain
David Kilshaw
Working group chairman

He said: "Scotland has some of the best natural produce and the most committed food and drink producers in the world - our food and drink is already one of the first things that people think of when they think of Scotland.

"Today's launch brings together the whole supply chain with the public sector for the first time to celebrate the fantastic produce available on our doorstep."

An estimated 122,000 people are employed in the sector, accounting for 5% of Scotland's total workforce.

The new body already has the support of a number of industry groups, including the National Farmers Union Scotland, the Sea Fish Industry Authority and the Scottish Food and Drink Federation.

'Global competition'

The Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise and Highland and Islands Enterprise also joined with leading food and drink companies to launch the initiative.

David Kilshaw, one of those behind the new organisation, said it was time for the industry to pull together.

Mr Kilshaw, who is group managing director of Food Partners, chaired the working group which spent the last 20 months setting up Scotland Food and Drink.

He said: "In the face of global competition it is clear we must harness our collective resources and pull together the skills and energy of the entire supply chain - our farmers and fishermen, processors and distillers, our researchers and educators and our public sector agencies - to take the industry forward."

Work is currently under way to recruit more members to the organisation.

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