Lochhead was celebrating the "sensational success story" of the sector, which has exceeded growth targets. He claimed this was largely due to Scottish Government-directed interventions to raise the profile of the sector and improve collaboration between companies and government agencies.
He also said that a Yes vote for independence in next year's referendum would be positive for the sector, largely because of the boost it would give the Scottish brand in key export markets, and because it would allow a separate Scotland to tailor an export strategy to suit its premium food and drink offering.
Asked if this meant that Scottish food brands would be likely to throw their weight behind the Yes campaign, he said that he was "confident" that there would be strong support from the sector "over the course of the coming year".
Lochhead also claimed that membership of the UK was an active disadvantage to Scottish produce, citing as an example alleged promotion of British beef in Japan, in preference to Scottish-branded beef thought to be favoured by Japanese chefs.
"There's huge potential for expansion in other parts of the world, such as the Far East," Lochhead said. "When I was in Japan last year to promote Scottish food and drink, top chefs there told me that Scotch Beef was their number one choice. However, it wasn't possible for them to source our product because the UK government did not regard Japan as a priority market."
Lochhead also outlined a programme of Scottish Government interventions to boost domestic awareness of Scotland's strengths in food and drink and "to get more Scots eating fresh, eating seasonal and eating local produce" to improve the country's chronic problems with diet.
He said: "We're also encouraging Scots to make the most of the amazing array of food and drink available on our doorstep, including 'Scottish superfoods' such as seafood and soft berries. For example, our Eat in Season campaign that is running right now highlights the fact that food is tastier, and often cheaper, when eaten in season."
Led by the whisky and seafood sectors, food and drink has been one of the key Scottish economic success stories in recent years, with industry growth targets being "smashed" six years early.
The industry has now set itself the goal of reaching £16.5 billion turnover and £7.1bn exports by 2017.
The Scottish food and drink supply chain comprises almost 34,000 companies, employing almost 350,000 people. A recent Bank of Scotland report predicted that thousands of new jobs could be created in the sector over the next few years.