Twenty-seven Scottish companies have been awarded a total of nearly £6m in a scheme to help food processors and producers construct new facilities, refurbish existing premises and purchase new equipment.
A total of £60m will be available to food processors and producers over six years through the Food Processing and Marketing Co-Operation (FPMC) grant scheme under the Scotland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.
The scheme was launched in March 2008 to support a range of economic, social and environmental goals, said spokesperson for the Scottish Department of Rural Affairs and the Environment, Eleanor Stratford.
She said it aims to support collaboration within the food chain in areas such as distribution and accessing markets.
“This is a competitive scheme and proposals are assessed on an individual basis,” Stratford told FoodProductionDaily.com.
She said that applications are considered by the National Project Assessment Committee (NPAC) on a number of criteria including value for money and efficiency as well as the wider economic, health and environmental impacts of the project.
The NPAC, she added, is made up of representatives of the public sector and wider food industry who make recommendations on the granting of awards.
The companies receiving grants include Glenbervie Aberdeen Angus who received £65,104 towards the purchase of a new robotic burger mixing and forming machine, as well as a packaging line incorporating automated tray formers and denesters, filling equipment and conveyors.
Fruit and vegetable processor, Speyfruit, was awarded £256,190 towards the construction of a new processing area and the purchase and installation of a fully automated processing line.
Energen Biogas, a renewable energy business, received £2m towards an anaerobic digestion plant to produce green electricity from food and farming waste and use the heat to grow vegetables.
The scheme will develop in line with Scotland’s national food and drink policy, claims Stratford.
The Scottish government's food and drink policy is founded on the hopes that sustainable economic growth of the food industry will lead to a wealthier country. It calls for greater co-operation and collaboration from primary production through to final market, ensuring the long term viability of primary producers and increasing export markets.
It urges food manufacturers to take the lead in driving forward customer demand for affordable, healthier food options.
The government says that a greener Scotland will result from reducing the environmental impact of food and drink production, processing, manufacturing and consumption by encouraging responsible behaviour throughout the supply chain to reduce emissions, unnecessary use of raw materials, waste, packaging, energy and water use.
Sustainable food supply
A symposium held in Edinburgh in May and organised the Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) looked at the ways of striking the right balance between environmental, economic and social factors in developing a sustainable food supply for Scotland.
According to the SFDF, the food and drink manufacturing industry in Scotland has a gross output of around £6.5bn and accounts for about £2.5bn of total UK exports and 11.8 per cent of the UK sector workforce.
Flora McLean, Director of SFDF, noted that the food and drinks industry represents the largest manufacturing sector in Scotland and said: "At a time when we are all increasingly aware of our environmental responsibilities it is important to ensure that both the Government and industry works to strike the right balance between environmental, economic and social factors."
"Setting environmental improvements in an economic context should help us to deliver progress without damaging the underlying competitiveness of business,” she added.