The Outer Hebrides Meet the Producer Day on Tuesday (14 March) brought together food and drink producers with buyers, tourism and hospitality professionals.
Food and drink businesses from across the Outer Hebrides hosted a travelling party of food and drink buyers and tourism and hospitality professionals as part of a food and drink tour organised by Eat Drink Hebrides and supported by Scotland Food & Drink (SF&D).
Designed to build relationships with buyers, introduce them to new products, secure future business and to promote collaboration, the tour is one of a number of Sourcing Scotland events across the country.
The group experienced ‘Food with a View’ at its very best, tasting just some of what Lewis and Harris has to offer in terms of locally produced award-winning artisan foods and drinks. Businesses included those specialising in: Charcuterie, Stornoway Black Pudding, Spring Water, Smoked Salmon, Chocolate, Beer and Island Gin.
The day rounded off with a showcase local produce dinner at Harbour Kitchen with whisky pairing from The Island Spirit Whisky Shop.
Eat Drink Hebrides is an initiative of Outer Hebrides Tourism, the island’s member-based destination group.
Established in 2016, Eat Drink Hebrides supports food and drink businesses across the Outer Hebrides in recognition of the important role they play in providing a quality visitor experience and in the wider economy.
The Outer Hebrides, with a strong history of traditional crofting and fishing, has an abundance of local produce and this will be further explored in the autumn when a similar showcasing event is planned for Uist and Barra.
The local Meet the Producer event is part of a Sourcing Scotland programme bringing together suppliers with buyers from retail, wholesale, and foodservice to help grow the sales of Scottish products across the country.
Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Over the past couple of years we have seen consumers grow increasingly aware of where their food and drink is coming from, and buyers need to meet the demand for locally produced products."
Sarah Maclean, Chief Executive of Outer Hebrides Tourism commented: “We are delighted to be able to host this event as we know how important the food and drink sector is to the success of the local visitor industry.
"The quality of fresh local produce we have here in the islands is one of our best assets and through Eat Drink Hebrides we are seeking to support our food and drink members to grow, develop and gain confidence in what they do. We are looking forward to holding a similar event in Uist and Barra later in the year”
Outer Hebrides Tourism is a Community Interest Company, which exists to develop, promote and sustain the tourism industry in the Outer Hebrides. Tourism generates £65m in economic value for the islands, sustains more than 1000 FTE jobs, and is one of the key growth sectors in the economy of the Islands. There are approximately 218,000 visitors per year, 1000 accommodation providers directly supported by tourism, and 100’s of other businesses whose livelihoods depend on the visitor economy.
Scotland Food & Drink is an industry leadership trade association set up in 2007, with over 460 members, which drives responsible growth in the industry to secure Scotland’s reputation as the land of food & drink.
The Scotland Food & Drink partnership is a unique collaborative partnership consisting of ten industry bodies, five public sector organisations and one research collaboration working in food & drink in Scotland, making Scotland Food & Drink the only body in the world to facilitate government and industry to work side by side.
Currently, Scotland Food & Drink is working towards Ambition 2030, which aims to double the size of the food and drink industry in Scotland to £30 billion in turnover by 2030.
Food & drink is one of the largest industry sectors in Scotland, with a £14.0 billion turnover (an increase of 36% since 2007) and employing 119,000 people. Overseas food and drink exports from Scotland are worth £6 billion, a rise of £570 million (11%) compared to 2016 and up £2.5 billion (70%) from 2007.