By Scott Wright

A SCOTTISH food processing company has underlined its confidence that produce from these shores is back on menus around the world, despite the continuing pandemic.

AK Stoddart, which operates sites in Ayrshire and West Lothian, has struck a £1 million export deal for its beef in Japan, giving a major boost to its overseas sales hopes.

The company sent an initial 20-tonne container of beef products to the country last month, which it said would be followed by further shipments in the next eight to 10 weeks.

It hailed the potential of the lucrative Japanese market, and the position of Japan as a gateway to other territories in the Far East. The UK was given the nod to recommence beef exports to Japan following a 23-year ban, stemming from the BSE crisis, in January last year.

Grant Moir, managing director of AK Stoddart, said: “As restaurants start to re-open, we are ready to supply some of the top chefs with some of the best beef in the world. This deal with Japan marks an important step forward for AK Stoddart’s export plans and we will look to grow and expand on this.”

Mr Moir added: “Brexit negotiations have opened up opportunities such as tapping into the US market, which will position us as the first and only beef processor in Scotland to be working with the States. But it has also thrown up challenges in trading and negotiations, it is a lengthy and timely auditing process to be approved for export to Japan and indeed the US.

“Taking the US in particular, there’s a large expat community and affiliation with Scottish culture, the importance to the Scottish economy of having trade links with countries such as the US and Japan is clear and we are working hard to navigate and adapt our business for export as the Brexit process ensues.”