The launch includes 40 different products from 11 suppliers certified to carry the new Scottish Dairy branding, all made in Scotland from solely Scottish milk. One new product – Old Edinburgh cheddar, from Lactalis Scotland – is making its debut at Anuga as part of the launch.
Beyond the branding, the new initiative will also consolidate products included in the scheme, primarily through dairy exporter Coombe Castle. The aim is to create an attractive package of Scottish dairy products foreign buyers can have confidence in, both in terms of quality and ability to supply, according to Roddy Wilde, lead consultant to the Scottish Dairy growth board.
‘We can deliver’
“Companies have to be export-ready. What we’ve wanted to do is to make sure we were producing a package for potential buyers overseas where everything was ready, all boxes ticked, ready to go,” he said, adding that beyond their Scottish provenance, participating suppliers had to have capacity in the business and ability to cope with the varying requirements of foreign markets.
“All companies involved in this have all been selected according to those criteria, so we can realistically stand at Anuga, in front of potential trade buyers, and say ‘we can deliver’,” said Wilde, who said around €135,000 of public funds have gone into the scheme so far.
According to Wilde, this initiative has its roots in a 2013 review of the dairy sector ordered by Scotland’s cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and the environment, Richard Lochhead, and the subsequent establishment of a growth board, headed by Paul Grant, owner of jam maker Mackays.
Along with a desire to boost Scottish exports and grow the added-value dairy industry, the initiative is also driven by the ongoing and deepening problems among milk producers, according to Wilde: “We have an industry which some may say is in crisis – there’s lots of problems, and a depression in milk prices. All is not well, and solutions are required.”
Callum MacInnes, owner of The Island Smokery, whose Orkney Smoked Cheddar products are part of the Scottish Dairy brand, agreed: “The dairy industry is in a downward spiral at the moment, and it’s very sad to see where we’re at – that is one of the key factors why we’ve got to make our marketplace much bigger than it is.”
MacInnes said he was hopeful the new scheme would be successful: “To have a marque of confidence on a range of Scottish products, all going through the same sales channel – when you get corporate branding like that, it can only be good for all the companies involved.”
He said The Island Smokery had initially been reluctant to expand into the export business, but with increasing numbers of queries from markets including Germany and the UAE, he decided the time was right to look abroad. The business finished doubling its production capacity to 80 tonnes a year in the last few months, and MacInnes said he was keen to make use of it.
“Being a Scotsman, I’m quite mean, so every inch of the factory floor must be used for factory use. There’s no such thing as dead space, because you’re paying for every square foot. Now we’ve created this space, I’m now very eager to fill it as much as we did the last factory,” he said.
The Scottish Dairy brand is split into three ranges: Heritage, for larger, more established producers; Organic, for products made from 100% organic Scottish milk; and Artisan, the largest category by number of products, for smaller, speciality products. Wilde said he expects products carrying the marque to be on shelves by the second half of 2016.