As Scotland's food and drink sector focuses on sustainability and the goal of net zero carbon emissions, there's no denying the numerous challenges ahead ... but there are also abundant opportunities, explains John Davidson of Scotland Food & Drink

Scotland’s food and drink owes a lot to the fantastic natural environment we are lucky enough to take our produce from. 

With fertile soils for arable farmers, lush grasslands and hills for livestock, and seas, rivers and lochs providing some of the finest fish and seafood in the world, we are fortunate to have all this on our doorstep. 

Today, on Earth Day, it is important that we not only appreciate Scotland’s environment but actively participate in protecting it. 
There is a climate crisis, and as an industry it is critical that we take ownership over our role in combating it.

This might mean changing our methods, it might mean doing things differently than how we did it before, but change is the only way we will be able to continue to produce world renowned food and drink in Scotland for generations to come. 

Scotland’s fisheries, farmers and crofters have supported us as stewards of our lands and seas for generations, but now we need to support them so that they can continue to produce the food and drink we are so proud of.  

Sustainability and low environmental impact are becoming more and more important to the consumer. 

This is an opportunity for us to place our industry as a world leader in sustainable food and drink. COP26 is set to come to Glasgow in November and Scotland’s food and drink industry needs to be ready to showcase our sectors to the world.

At the Scotland Food & Drink Leadership Dinner in 2020, industry leaders pinpointed climate change as a serious issue for the industry. 
Little did we know at the time that our industry’s focus would be turned upside down by Covid-19. 

Green recovery is at the heart of our Recovery Plan, which is why it is time for us to put that focus into action and strive to become industry leaders in sustainable working. 

The Scottish Government has put 2045 as the ambitious target of reaching net zero, but that does not mean that each sector has to aim for just that. 

We already have Scotland Food & Drink Partnership organisations who are pushing their industries to reduce their carbon footprints and also increase their sustainability before 2045. The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership has also released ‘Greening Your Business’, a toolkit for businesses to increase their sustainability, reduce their carbon footprint and still improve their bottom line.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) are one Partnership member creating a clear path for their sector’s sustainability goals with the release of  ‘The Scotch Whisky Industry Sustainability Strategy’, an ambition vision of how the whisky industry can achieve net zero by 2040. 

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) have also released their ‘Ambition 2025 – Shaping Sustainable Value Chains’ which aims to help develop and deliver a more sustainable food system. 

This includes a target for reducing CO2 emissions, deliverables around water use, reducing food waste, the use of more sustainable packaging and the reduction of emissions from transport. 

NFU Scotland is another making great strides in promoting climate change and sustainability as a priority for the agriculture sector, being leading members of the Farming for 1.5 group as well as their Champions for Change campaign. 
‘A Better Future For Us All’ is the proactive charter from Scottish Salmon (SSPO) which aims towards 100% renewable energy within the industry and 100% sustainable sourcing of feed. 

These sector specific strategies and campaigns are vital if the food and drink sector in Scotland is going to be able to hit the Scottish Government’s net zero targets by 2045 and it is our role, as the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, to bring these sectors together.

This is an excellent first step and has something I believe every food and drink business in Scotland can take away into their own business. 
But it is exactly that – a first step. 

We need to keep the momentum moving forward and we need to continue to hold ourselves and our industry to account. 

The Scottish food and drink industry is facing a challenge, but we are also being presented with a fantastic opportunity. 

By making changes and by embracing collaboration, we are not only creating a sustainable market for our producers and manufacturers but also a sustainable industry which will last for generations.   

For more information, go online at


The Crafty Pickle Co.


Launched in April 2019, The Crafty Pickle Co. is owned by partners Arthur Serini and Madi Myers, who sharean avid passion for sustainability and nutrition

The Crafty Pickle Co. is a small fermented food business in Aberdeen Scotland. We’re very new, only a few months old!

Our mission is to reduce food waste by using as much perfectly edible, imperfect, surplus produce as possible to create raw, unpasteurised, naturally nutritious fermented food products. 

We wanted to create a brand and  product that didn’t make empty promises of health and longevity, but rather a promise to make a difference. We’re a young company but we’re passionate about tackling food waste. 

We’re building relationships with food producers and food retailers to gain access to their imperfect,  surplus produce so we can take this unloved food and turn it into a product that is loved and celebrated worldwide. 

We have rescued around 50kg of unloved surplus produce in our first three months. A small impact right now, but we hope to grow this impact substantially in the next year. 
We also donate a percentage of our sales to the local charity CFINE that aims to tackle food insecurity in the North East of Scotland.

So far, we’ve received assistance from so many helpful organisations including; Elevator & Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Opportunities North East, Santander University, University of Aberdeen and FareShare.





At Mackie’s we make real dairy ice cream on  the family farm in Aberdeenshire. We are one of the UK’s most popular ice creams and export to several countries.

We are installing a new low carbon, power efficient refrigeration system run on ammonia – a natural  refrigerant gas that poses no threat to the environment and is set to be one of the most sophisticated in Europe. 

Our goal is to be the greenest ice cream producer in Europe. 

We changed the gas that is used in our refrigeration plants from HCFC gases to ammonia, which has zero global warming potential.

This will be Scotland’s first large scale plant combining biomass heat and absorption chilling, allowing us to target CO2 equivalent reductions of 90% and energy costs of 70-80%.

The £4 million project is being brought to life thanks to a grant from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, match funded by Mackie’s through a loan from Bank of Scotland.