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battle of the breakfast

As William Wallace said: They can take away our shipbuilding.

They can take away our steel. But they'll never take away our sausages.

It's Braveheart at breakfast. Never mind the referendum. It is time for the nation to rise when Scotland's haggis, black pudding, lorne, and link industries are laid waste on the callous whim of a food multi-national.

Among the issues difficult to comprehend about the closure of the Hall's meat plant is how such a basic product as the Scottish breakfast became unsustainable. There is every chance it is because Hall's owners, Vion Food Group, decided that 75% of Scotland's little piggies should go to market via one giant slaughterhouse in West Lothian. There is a clue in the company's high-flown corporate-speak: "Vion Food Group's strategic vision is based on a unified company leveraging strong advantages through synergies and sustainability." For synergy read slashing the workforce in pursuit of profits .

There is more mince in the mission statement about "customer intimacy" and Vion being "committed to playing a positive role in the communities we work in and with". You could call Vion UK a Scottish firm since its head office is in Livingston. But the power lies at Vion world HQ in Holland where the decisions were taken on this latest round of "synergies". There were 290 redundancies in the Netherlands homeland, 340 in Germany where the spending power is, and 1700 in Broxburn.

We must rule out entirely any thought that the axe fell most heavily over here because some Vion workers in Cambuslang had the temerity earlier this year to take strike action on pay.

So, how do we save our Scottish sausages and related products? I am an internationalist when it comes to food. I will happily chew on an authentic Spanish chorizo. And salami, wurst, or boudin noir of suitable quality and provenance. Vion's slogan at their soon to be defunct Hall's meat plant is "Made for Scotland". But how much of Vion's output will be made in Scotland? A haggis from Holland or a Berlin bridie would be as hard to swallow as that Vion mission statement.

The answer will be to shop around for produce from the many small Scottish food manufacturers which will surely flourish now the Vion monster has left such a bad taste in the mouth.

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Food and drink

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