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Inquiry into food affordability

19 June 08 13:09 GMT

An inquiry into the affordability of food in light of global price rises is to take place, the Scottish Government has announced.

The move is one of a range of measures unveiled as Scotland moves towards its first national policy for food and drink.

Top chef Martin Wishart will lead a campaign to improve the quality and visibility of home-grown produce.

Ministers have already carried out a discussion exercise on the policy.

There will also be an investigation into "Scottish" labelling on food and drink, to make it easier for shoppers to identity products and trust the labels on them.

A "cooking bus" will tour the country teaching people healthy cooking skills and improving food education.

And the government will award a new catering contract which has a greater emphasis on healthier menus and fresh, seasonal produce.

The administration will also support the creation of a world class health and nutrition centre, through a future merging of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen and Aberdeen University.

The moves were announced by rural affairs and environment secretary Richard Lochhead during a visit to the Royal Highland Show.

He said: "The time is right for a fresh new future for Scottish food and drink."

He added that his aim was to "promote Scotland's sustainable economic growth by ensuring the focus of all food and drink-related activity by government offers quality, health and wellbeing and sustainability, whilst recognising the need for access to affordable food for all".

"I know that government alone cannot bring about a change in attitude towards food and drink - winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Scotland will be key to continuing this revolution."

'Genuine benefits'

Farmers leaders in Scotland have called the proposals "exciting and ambitious".

NFU Scotland president, Jim McLaren said farmers were willing to play their part but added: "That willingness is tempered by the current agricultural climate."

The Food Standards Agency Scotland also welcomed the announcement.

Fiona Moriarty, the director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said she was looking forward to working with the Scottish Government to "identify those issues where there are genuine benefits to customers and food supply in Scotland from a distinctive Scottish approach, while highlighting areas where consistency with UK and EU policy is required".

The Sustainable Development Commission said it was "essential" that the "Government stay the course with its original holistic vision of Scotland's food policy".

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