As 2020 draws to a close, ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture chair Stanley Morrice shares his thoughts on the year and looks ahead to 2021.
In 2020, COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of our industry, from how we work to markets and consumers. Our family, home and personal lives have all changed too because of the pandemic restrictions. There have been challenges for every one of us, and they look set to continue into the new year.
Despite the disruption and uncertainty, food, drink, agriculture and fishing businesses have adapted to keep the nation fed, maintained production and distribution, and shown resilience.
Winston Churchill famously said never let a good crisis go to waste. There are significant opportunities for the sector in our region. Some of our businesses are growing strongly on the back of retail demand and have invested in their processes. Others facing the decline in foodservice have found new routes to market and strengthened the structure of their businesses. Combining agility with a focus on innovation and consumers will be critical as we move from reset and recovery to longer-term growth.
The Scotland food and drink recovery plan, launched in November, recognised the threats posed by coronavirus disruption and Brexit uncertainty. It commits industry and government to invest in market development and direct support to businesses to realise market opportunities at home and internationally. The regional sector priorities of leadership, innovation, and market development directly align with national ambition. The industry in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray will be a driver of national economic recovery.
Looking ahead, ONE will provide programmes and deliver transformational projects to help businesses achieve more and do it faster. Through growth programmes, mentoring and leadership development, market development and export planning, and advanced manufacturing and digital innovation. It has been a tough time for people leading businesses. ONE will continue to provide the industry with safe space to share experiences, discuss challenges, and plan for the future.
SeedPod will give the sector a real competitive advantage in developing foods of the future and increasing productivity. It will be the place to access global consumer insights, product development expertise, and advanced manufacturing processes and technology.
The Seafood Transformation Project’s focus on advanced processing capacity and market development is game-changing for the single largest part of the region’s £2.2 billion food and drink sector.
And developing food tourism will be critical to connecting consumers and producers, building a national and international profile, and supporting recovery and growth in hospitality and tourism.
We all agree that uncertainties and challenges will continue in the short term. Still, our sector and enterprising businesses have a successful history of adapting and innovating in changing circumstances. They will continue to do so. With that in mind, please reflect on what you have achieved individually and collectively this year. Look ahead to 2021, take stock and plan, and make the most of the assistance available to you. Continue to support each other and stay safe over the festive season.
On behalf of the industry board at ONE, I wish you well, and we look forward to working with you in the new year.
Chair, ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture
Read the full December 2020 ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture sector update here.
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