Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has praised Orkney's Food and Drink sector ahead of the start of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2021 which begins this weekend.
Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is an annual celebration of the best Scotland’s food and drink sector has to offer and seeks to encourage more people than ever to buy, eat and promote Scottish food and drink.
Mr McArthur's comments came as the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday) debated a motion on supporting the success of Scotland's Food and Drink. The debate acknowledged the significant contribution that food and drink make to Scotland’s economy and recognised its resilience in light of recent challenges posed by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
"Orkney is home to a thriving food and drink sector with many excellent local businesses and producers boasting national and international reputations. We have traditionally punched above our weight and there is no doubt that this is a lynchpin of our local economy, with great potential for future growth.
"It is clear too, however, that the sector faces stark challenges at a local and national level. Brexit has created shortages in the labour market while also disrupting key exports, most notably seafood. The pandemic has exposed frailties in supply chains, which don’t always work in the interests of island communities. And the sector will need to shoulder its share of responsibility for reducing emissions and helping Scotland achieve our climate change targets.
"I’m confident it can meet these challenges, but at the start of Food & Drink Fortnight 2021, it feels all the more important to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of value of this sector. In Orkney, that importance is not just measured in economic terms as the production of food and drink goes to the very heart of who we are as a community."