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Scottish food, drink suppliers going for gold

29 June 2011

An innovative new pilot project which will assist Scottish food and drink companies in operating more sustainably was launched by Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, at the Royal Highland Show

The  partnership between industry leadership organisation Scotland Food & Drink, Marks & Spencer, Scottish Enterprise, SAOS, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, SAC, Zerowaste Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, Prince’s May Day Trust, Scottish Business in the Community and the Scottish Food & Drink Federation, the ‘Getting to Gold’ initiative will provide coordinated support to selected Scottish M&S suppliers, in line with the retailer’s eco-plan, Plan A, to be the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015.

A truly collaborative approach, the project is the first time that the various organisations which offer support in developing sustainable operations have worked together in this way.
The pilot phase will focus on four core supply chains with a significantly strong association with Scotland – red meat, berries, vegetables and farmed fish. Each participant is assigned a dedicated contact who will coach them through an accelerated supplier development process encompassing ethical, environmental and lean aspects.

Sustainability has been identified as a key development driver for the food and drink industry and substantial efforts have been made to put in place measures that will enable the sector to meet the Scottish Government’s 80% carbon reduction targets. Economic sustainability is also a core focus as Scotland Food & Drink progresses its vision to grow the industry from £10bn to £12.5bn by 2017, increasing its contribution to the Scottish economy.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said: "Scotland’s food and drink industry is a key economic strength and it is vital that we support Scottish producers and processors to find new ways to promote healthy and sustainable food choices and reduce their environmental impact. This will help us to meet our ambitious climate change targets and move towards a zero waste society, while also driving greater efficiencies for the industry.

“It is heartening to see retailers working with suppliers on important social and environmental issues in this way and I hope this pilot project will help many other organisations to develop more sustainable supply chains.”

Gavin Hewitt, chair of Scotland Food & Drink‘s sustainability working group, commented on the launch: “Supporting food and drink companies to operate more sustainably is the key objective of the Working Group. This project will help companies to meet the challenges we all face. There are strong environmental benefits and cost efficiencies in tackling supply chain issues in this way.

“I am delighted that M&S is leading the way. The ‘Getting to Gold’ project will give participating suppliers a single point of contact to access the relevant advice and support from all the partner agencies.”

Paul Willgoss, Head of Food Technology at Marks & Spencer, says: “This is an excellent example of how the industry can come together and work effectively to support processors and producers in Scotland.

“Our Plan A sustainability framework is an intrinsic part of how we operate at M&S, but integrating sustainability practices into our suppliers’ businesses can seem daunting for some. This pilot scheme will provide support for Scottish suppliers to make it much more achievable so hopefully they, too, can reap the benefits of operating a sustainable business.

“The Plan A requirements for M&S suppliers cover three platforms – environment, ethics and lean manufacture, and within each of these platforms there are three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold. We are aiming to source 25% of our volume from gold rated suppliers by 2015 and we hope that this partnership will help us to achieve that.”

The findings of the pilot scheme will be reported at the Marks & Spencer supplier sustainability conference in 2012.

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