The Royal Highland Show represents a rare opportunity to come together and celebrate one of Scotland’s unsung industries, writes Karin Hayhow
EIGHTY per cent of Scotland’s land is used for agriculture, making the industry the single biggest factor in the famous landscape around us.
Scotland’s farmers, crofters and growers produce output worth around £2.9 billion a year, and are responsible for much of Scotland’s £5 billion food and drink exports – with targets of £7.1 billion in 2017.
Around 67,000 people are directly employed in agriculture in Scotland – meaning that farming is the third largest employer in rural Scotland after the service and public sectors, while a further 360,000 jobs (more than 1 in 10 Scottish jobs) depend on agriculture.
The Royal Highland Show, affectionately known as ‘the Heelan’, is the pinnacle of the farming year in Scotland and a celebration of everything that is good about the industry.
Now at its 177th show it has been showcasing the best of agriculture in Scotland and the people at the heart of the sector – and the fabric of Scottish life – for generations. The Show also has a truly international appeal with visitors coming from all over Europe, due to Scotland’s reputation for the highest standards of farming.
At a time when modern consumers are constantly reminded of the disconnect from their food source – attending ‘the Heelan’ can set that right.
People from the farming sector across the country traditionally take time out from work to attend, to meet their suppliers and colleagues , but increasing numbers from all walks of life are enjoying the day out and it’s a chance to learn a bit more about our food where it comes from.
Farming families and brands like ours (Mackie’s of Scotland) make the pilgrimage to the Highland Show for the chance to tell our food stories and learn from the customer interaction in a busy food hall, where people connect with the source of our produce.
It has been the natural launch-pad for our own products; we’ve introduced crisps, chocolate and countless ice cream flavours, while our peers have been just as active scoping out public opinion on their latest goods.
The last few years have also seen a number of large supermarkets take stands and demonstrate the products they stock and their connection with farming – a good sign for the industry and customers who like fresh, home-grown produce.
While farming has formed the backdrop of modern Scotland it is the Highland Show that is helping it back into the foreground.
Alongside the business being done, we should not forget that the main draw of ‘the Heelan’ is the sheer fun of it all – a huge gathering of activities, animals, competitions, royalty, food and drink.
That’s why we love coming together with the whole country to celebrate the diversity of the industry at this unique and wonderful show.
Let’s make Heelan number 177 the best yet.
Karin Hayhow (nee Mackie), is Marketing Director at Mackie’s of Scotland, one of the country’s leading food and drink brands.
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