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Perth at the Heart of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink

by Sarah Fairley

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Scottish Craft Distillers event held at the Scottish Parliament. PIC PHIL WILKINSON 01316186373 - 07740444373Perthshire has been key to the success of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, according to a senior official from the national tourism organisation.

Jim Clarkson of VisitScotland stated that the strength and heritage of the food and drink sector in the region proved crucial in attracting key conferences to Scotland throughout the year, including the UK’s first national conference for craft distillers and the largest industry meet-the-buyer event in the Scottish Calendar.

The food and drink sector has been identified by Perth & Kinross Council as a key sector for growth. As a result, in partnership with a number of organisations including Scotland Food and Drink, it helped fund and organise a series of events with the aim of positioning Perthshire as a food and drink destination of choice.

Mr Clarkson, the Regional Partnerships Director at VisitScotland, said: “Perthshire more than played its part in making the Year of Food and Drink one of the most successful themed years ever by offering various opportunities to celebrate the area’s incredible natural larder.

“Some of the biggest events of this deliciously themed year took place in the region, including the first UK Craft Distillers Conference at Atholl Palace, The Mix-In at The Byre on the Inchyra Estate and Showcasing Scotland at Gleneagles.

“The Year of Food and Drink has been a huge success in raising the profile of the unique and diverse dining experiences which can be enjoyed across Perthshire.”

The influential ‘Showcasing Scotland’ conference, which took place at Gleneagles Hotel in October, enabled more than 100 Scottish food and drink companies to meet with influential buyers from across the UK and key international markets, was the biggest event hosted in Perthshire.

Data from the same event in 2014 suggests that 600 separate buyer meetings took place and an estimated £20M new business was developed for the following three years.

Heading up a host of important trade events taking place in Perthshire was The UK Craft Distillers’ Conference, a two day event run by the Scottish Craft Distillers Association at Atholl Palace in Pitlochry.

The conference featured a number of in-depth talks and workshops led by key industry and academic bodies, including Douglas Murray, Master Blender at Diageo and Bill Owens from the American Distillery Institute.

Councillor John Kellas, Convenor of the Enterprise and Infrastructure Committee, said: “With the heritage of world famous whisky, artisan suppliers and some of the finest beef and venison produce in the world, we know how important the sector is to the local economy, therefore it was vital for Perth to have played such a fundamental part in the Year of Food and Drink.

“The huge advantage of hosting these events in Perthshire is that we can really showcase Scotland and the sector as a whole, while for the individual businesses the access to international buyers is hugely valuable particularly on the back of the launch of the ambitious Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.”

The Food and Drink Industry is one of Scotland’s key growth sectors with ambitions to grow from £13.1Bn today to £16.5Bn by 2017. Within Perth & Kinross, the annual turnover of the food and drink sector is estimated at £310m and there are in the region of 130 companies in the processing sector highlighting how involved the area is in the industry.

With the region’s renowned food and drink suppliers at the heart of the local economy, Perth & Kinross Council’s inward investment campaign, ‘Invest in Perth’, we’re committed to helping businesses in this sector by involving them in the Year of Food and Drink.

Suzanne Cumiskey, Business Development Officer at Invest in Perth, said: “We’re delighted to see the support the industry is getting through truly innovative initiatives and projects.

“The events which have taken place in Perthshire this year have showcased what it has to offer in terms of food and drink spectacularly. It has been a great way of celebrating the rich produce we have on our doorstep and an opportunity to market it to the rest of the country.”


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    Private: Sarah Fairley

    Sarah Fairley delivers an impressively wide suite of digital services to clients of Holyrood PR, the leading public relations agency in Edinburgh. At every stage her focus is on making sure that content shared on blogs, YouTube and social media platforms like Twitter and LinkeIn delivers real business value to clients of the Scottish PR agency.

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