Scotland is known across the world for its variety of high quality, nutritious food and drink and increasingly for our environmental credentials. Despite the impacts of the pandemic our food and drink businesses continue to make great strides to help deliver a more sustainable food system.

Indeed, in April, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) announced its Net Zero by 2040 ambition. This builds upon the great success already achieved by our members from across the UK of reducing onsite carbon emissions by 55%, five years before our 2025 target: the FDF’s Ambition 2025 progress report - Shaping Sustainable Value Chains was published in February.

To support food and drink businesses in the Net Zero by 2040 ambition, the FDF is working on a Roadmap to Net Zero. This roadmap will be launched alongside a handbook for businesses at COP26 in November, and is part of a wider programme of events this year, to engage with FDF members and the wider sector on the journey to Net Zero.  The handbook will look at the actions businesses can take in the following areas: ingredients, packaging, manufacturing, distribution and storage, as well as the role customers have in reducing the carbon footprint of food.   

Emissions from the supply chain account, with ingredient sourcing the largest contributor, make up the majority of a food and drink product’s carbon footprint. This means we will need to work in partnership with the whole supply chain from farm to fork to ensure we are able to deliver Net Zero food and drink products on our supermarket shelves by 2040.

In Scotland, our supply chain has been working together for nearly fifteen years within the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership. The Partnership is made up of industry organisations, Scottish Government and its agencies. Our key purpose in these challenging times is supporting the green recovery of our food and drink industry. Laying the foundations for a transition to Net Zero is fundamental to the recovery, and to the future.    

Recently I was delighted to be asked to Chair the Scotland Food & Drink Net Zero taskforce.  There is a lot already being done to drive to Net Zero by partners including the FDF in farming, fishing, food and drink. We must ensure that this is brought together in a clear and robust strategy that ensures Scottish food and drink is ready for the future. At the heart of this will need to be ambition, support and action. 

Net Zero and sustainability will need skills development in the workforce which is already a key part of the Scotland Food & Drink Recovery Plan. Covid-19 has highlighted how resilient the food and drink industry is and has put a spotlight on the hidden heroes working in the sector who took on different roles, learnt new skills and worked in different ways to keep the nation fed. The development of important skills in areas such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and collaboration during the pandemic will be vital for the future to support different ways of working and new processes that will allow the food supply chain to become more sustainable.

It was great to see that the Scottish Government announced a Green Jobs Workforce Academy and Green Jobs Fund. This has the potential to support food and drink businesses to invest in skills and projects to help them on their Net Zero journey. Alongside that we are working with the Government to ensure smaller food and drink businesses can make use of energy transition funding to enable our industry to transition from using gas to electricity and hydrogen.

For Scotland to become a world leader in tackling the climate emergency, we all need to work together. As the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership we are committed to the next steps in delivering a more environmentally sustainable Scotland.