Co-op Tour for ScotGov’s Food and Drink Industry Division

We were really delighted to spend the last couple of days showing three members of the Scottish Government’s Food and Drink Industry division around some of our hugely innovative and successful co-ops.

Our trip started with Scottish Shellfish in Bellshill where the group learned more about the advantages of achieving a degree of farmer-controlled dominance in primary supply, and how the growers have maximised their opportunities through co-op investment.

Next on the trip was a visit to Quaker Oats at Cupar, part of Pepsico International, where the sheer enlightened logic applied to a relatively straight forward, win/win supply chain collaboration, was really encouraging to see. The relationship with the OatCo group, part of Grainco, clearly benefits both sides and the outcomes for farmer competitiveness and security are clear to see.

At Grampian Growers, the entrepreneurialism of the farmer growers in entering a new crop, the export market development, and the ambition of investing in the development of their Gemson line of potatoes to make it a commercial success were impressive.

Our second day began at ANM Group, where we learned more about this highly diversified co-op with nearly 5000 members. The scale and essential nature of the redistribution of livestock that takes place through the services of the co-op, and the capital investment and service provision necessary to achieve it, were notable. Their plans for further development and the potential to benefit the wider rural community, in particular, their investment in the Farm Profit Programme, which is communicating straightforward, easy wins to all farmers, are exciting.

We met Andy McGowan, MD of Scottish Pig Producers, at the ScotEID office in Huntly next. He explained the breadth and depth of innovation projects being undertaken to improve the competitiveness of the herd and, at the same time, the collaboration in processing, aiming not just to secure a future outlet, but to add value in Scotland to realise the market potential for Specially Selected Scottish Pork.

Finally, we learned more about ScotEID livestock traceability and its database capabilities; the speed with which information can become available from the supply chain, and the ease of the user interfaces are really amazing and the future potential for developing supply chain uses/services from ScotEID seem almost limitless.

The purpose of the visits was to demonstrate ways in which future policy could better support and encourage farmer co-operation and supply chain collaboration. At all our visits, Scotland Food & Drink’s Ambition 2030 came up at some point, as the future ambition/target, and how increased co-operation and collaboration are vital for its success. The other recurring theme was how the Scottish Government’s Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund (KTIF) had been so very helpful to many co-op projects.

Many thanks to all who were involved in the visits.

The group pictured with Quaker Oats staff at their plant at Cupar.