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Minister launches Food & Drink Plan for the Cairngorms National Park

13th September 2010

The food and drink sector in the Cairngorms National Park has received a boost with the launch today of the ‘Food for Life’ Plan for the Park and the ‘Cairngorms Producers Directory’ by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.

The aim of the ‘Food for Life’ initiative is to build a sustainable food economy across the Cairngorms. The Plan will do this in practice through encouraging an increase in food production and processing across the Park and increased consumption of Cairngorms produced food and drink. It will reduce food miles, boost the tourism and retail sectors and encourage people to consider a healthier diet.

The Plan and the corresponding initiatives arising are called ‘Food for Life’ since the Plan has adopted the framework for sustainable food which has been developed by Soil Association Scotland’s ‘Food for Life’ programme. The Plan was written in partnership with Soil Association Scotland. The Plan is also the first regional food strategy for Scotland which recognises the importance of food and drink as a medium for economic and social development.

Richard Lochhead MSP was at the Cairngorm Brewery in Aviemore this morning to launch the ‘Food for Life’ Plan and unveil the producers’ directory – the very first outcome of the newly launched Plan.

Speaking at the launch, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “In its first ever worldwide study, the International Culinary Tourism Association recently declared Scotland as one of the most ‘unique, memorable and interesting places’ for food and drink on the planet. The Cairngorm National Park is harnessing that vision. The ‘Food for Life’ Plan and the ‘Cairngorm Producers Directory’ will enhance the National Park’s ability to build its own sustainable food economy, promote a healthier diet and provide tourists with a real taste of the region.

“Scotland’s food and drink sector is both a huge success and vital to our economic recovery. In 2008, the supply chain employed over 369,000 people across Scotland and in 2007, generated value added of almost 9 billion pounds for Scotland’s economy. We are currently celebrating Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, and Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight – a fitting occasion to launch ‘Food for Life’ Plan for the Park and the ‘Cairngorms Producers Directory’.”

Delivery of the ‘Food for Life’ project is being co-ordinated by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). Crucially, this is underpinned by considerable input from a wide range of partners including Soil Association Scotland. The CNPA board approved – less than two weeks ago – £55,000 towards the implementation of the initiative.

David Green, the CNPA’s Convener said: “The launch of this initiative is helping to give people what they want. Research by VisitScotland has shown that there is increasing consumer demand for locally produced food and drink and the ‘Food for Life’ Plan will go some way to making sure that this happens more and more.

“The concept offers distinct advantages by bringing together economic, education, social and environmental activities in a coordinated way and there are long-term benefits to be gained including health improvement, skills development and employment, business diversity, increasing retention of wealth and carbon reduction through localised food chains.

“The ‘Food for Life’ Plan is closely aligned with the Scottish Government’s National Food Policy and can help us meet some of the goals set out in the National Park Plan.”

Dr Eleanor Logan of Soil Association Scotland said:  “We are delighted that the CNPA chose ‘Food for Life’ Scotland as a framework for growing a sustainable food economy and encouraging people to adopt a diet based on more seasonal local food. This ‘Food for Life’ Plan will demonstrate how a dedicated approach to sustainable food production and consumption can be driven forward in practice and in doing so, support local businesses to grow and develop.”

The Cairngorms Producers’ Directory was also unveiled at the Cairngorm Brewery this morning – the Brewery obviously being listed among the entries. The directory is for anyone working in the catering trade both in and on the fringes of the Cairngorms National Park. With support from Soil Association Scotland and funding worth £3,400 from the Cairngorms LEADER Local Action Group, the directory aims to encourage as much local sourcing and purchasing as possible.

The launch of ‘Food for Life’ and the producers’ directory comes just ahead of a major celebration of food and drink in the Cairngorms from Monday 4 October to Sunday 10 October. ‘Taste of the Cairngorms’ has been co-ordinated by the organisers of the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships. The week-long programme includes a variety of events, some with an oatmeal theme, to tie in with the World Porridge Making Championships while at the same time helping raise money for the Scottish-based charity, Mary’s Meals. There is also beer and whisky tasting along with a showcase of local produce and a food and drinks trail aimed at directing visitors towards local restaurants and other eateries making use of seasonal local produce. More information can be found at: