Look to the locals

Scottish produce can help grow sales and offer a point of difference, say food supplier

DESIRE to support local businesses, the appeal of Scotland’s natural larder and a growing move to be more environmentally friendly are just a few of the factors behind the soaring consumer demand for local produce in restaurants across the country.

That was the message from food suppliers, who told SLTN that a move to incorporate more locally-sourced produce can pay dividends.

Becky Hover, Brakes marketing manager, said provenance “has been important to customers for several years”, adding that there “are a variety of benefits” if operators choose to work with Scottish producers.

“Many consumers want to know that their money is staying in their local area and provenance also helps connect them with the produce they purchase,” she said.

This was echoed by a spokeswoman for Rora Dairy, in Aberdeenshire, which produces a range of natural Scottish yoghurt.

I believe Scotland is the envy of Europe in terms of the quality of produce we have on our doorstep.

She said: “The outlets that choose to stock Rora Dairy yoghurt realise that their customers care about how far the product has travelled and want to know the food they’re buying is supporting local farmers and the local economy.”

She explained that stocking local produce can also give an outlet a point of difference – and help bolster sales.

“Venues can work closely with suppliers to help tell the story of how the product came about and is made,” she said.

Working with quality Scottish producers is also important to chefs, according to Brakes.

Gary Maclean, Brakes Scotland ambassador and chef lecturer at City of Glasgow College, said: “As a chef and lecturer I know first-hand how important locally-sourced food, with strong provenance, is to chefs and consumers.

“I have always been a huge advocate of Scottish produce across the seasons – from shellfish to fresh berries – and I believe Scotland is the envy of Europe in terms of the quality of produce we have on our doorstep.”

For operators looking to better showcase their relationship with local suppliers, Rora Dairy’s spokeswoman said licensees should “encourage customer-facing staff to tell the story of local food being served” in order to grow sales.