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Highlands and Islands food and drink producers to discuss challenges and opportunities at Inverness conference


By Calum MacLeod

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Picture: Alasdair Allen. Image No. 035236..Cheese selection ...Highlands and Islands Food Awards 2016 at the Kingsmills Hotel Inverness.
Picture: Alasdair Allen. Image No. 035236..Cheese selection ...Highlands and Islands Food Awards 2016 at the Kingsmills Hotel Inverness.

A NEW conference to take place in Inverness next month will provide a taster of the challenges and opportunities facing Scotland’s £15 billion food and drink sector – and a taste of the produce behind its international success.

Hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards (HIFDA) conference and evening reception will take place at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on Friday, November 12, with the half-day conference beginning at 1.30pm.

The evening reception, sponsored by Scotland Food and Drink, will follow at 6.30pm to showcase the best of local food and drink and allow guests to chat and connect in person.

The food and drink sector has been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 crisis with up to £3 billion of revenue estimated to have been lost to the Scottish food and drink industry.

There are the additional challenges surrounding Brexit and the current impact on supply chains, recruitment of staff and costs.

Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2019 at the Kingsmills Hotel..Evan Forsyth, waiter at Kingsmills Hotel..Picture: James MacKenzie..
Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2019 at the Kingsmills Hotel..Evan Forsyth, waiter at Kingsmills Hotel..Picture: James MacKenzie..

However, the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership, which brings together industry, government and public sector agencies working in the Scottish food and drink sector, has an aim of doubling the value of the industry to £30 billion by 2030.

Other partnership aims include driving growth via innovation, integrating supply chains, investing in people and skills, and focusing on market growth opportunities domestically and internationally.

Event host Claire White, food tourism ambassador 2021 and manager of Shetland Food and Drink, said: “It’s been a difficult year for many, but we hope this event will be a brilliant way to get together, talk tactics and look ahead with enthusiasm and optimism. There are opportunities to captialise on for food and drink companies and by working and collaborating together we can achieve more.”

Topics of the conference, which will also be available to stream online, will be brand, collaboration, insights, innovations and trends.

A range of expert speakers and panellists from the sector will look at the issues and challenges as well as exploring the opportunities and how food and drink businesses can compete and grow in an increasingly competitive global market.

Topics will include the importance of brand storytelling, core trends, the Knowledge Bank’s free insight service which gives access to a unique blend of customised market research, data analysis and consumer insights, and the new product development driving change in the sector, including health and wellness and sustainable packaging.

Keith Paterson, managing director of Shore Seaweed.
Keith Paterson, managing director of Shore Seaweed.

Speakers already confirmed include Keith Patterson, managing director of Shore Seaweed, which harvests the ingredients for its nutrient rich snacks from sustainable sources in Caithness; Annabel Thomas, founder of independent, female-led distillery Nc’nean; Tina O’Dwyer, founder of The Tourism Space; Meena and Chris Watt, of Isle of Skye Salt; and Martin Sherring of the Highlands Good Food Partnership.

The event is sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scotland Food and Drink, Johnston Carmichael, Highland News and Media and MacRoberts.

Tickets for the conference and reception are available at the early bird price of £35 until October 22, and will then rise to £45.

n To view the full programme and book, please visit:www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/highlands-islands-food-drink-awards-conference-evening-reception-tickets-169994513165


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