Scottish cereals, horticulture and potato growers wanting to sell their produce overseas are being encouraged to make use of the newly established Scottish Agri Export Hub.
The hub, which is being delivered by farming union NFU Scotland and agri co-operatives body SAOS with funding from the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s Recovery Plan, aims to help farmers tap into export markets all over the world.
It is led by Patrick Hughes, who is the former head of potato export development at levy body, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and former head of Seafood Scotland.
Mr Hughes said while some growers are already cashing in on opportunities to sell their produce abroad, there is huge scope for others to follow suit and the hub was launched to help them do that.
“This type of support is more important now than ever,” said Mr Hughes, who took up his new role towards the end of last year.
He said he has spent the bulk of his time in the job so far looking at examples of Scottish farmers and growers who are already selling into export markets.
And while export markets for potatoes – in particular seed potatoes – are fairly well-established, Mr Hughes has discovered other examples of Scottish growers sending their produce abroad including shipments of berries to the Middle East, neeps to Germany and Brussels Sprouts to Brussels.
“There’s certainly opportunities,” said Mr Hughes.
“We have world-class produce and world-class agricultural products that we can sell; seed potatoes is a classic example.
“And if certain agricultural products are in demand there’s no reason why our other products would not necessarily have that demand as well.”
Mr Hughes said the hub would look to develop alternative markets for seed potatoes, which are currently not able to go to Europe due to post-Brexit trading restrictions, and create new markets for other growers’ produce.
He stressed the hub would not seek to improve export opportunities for grain commodities, but instead seek to open up and improve premium export markets for growers.
“I think we could certainly be a global player whilst realising that we are not producing tonnes of output, but we can be selective in the markets that we choose,” said Mr Hughes.
“We are not talking about boat-loads of stuff. It would be more bespoke and more targeted.
“It may well be that we have potential export markets that offer a better premium and martin that the domestic market.”
Mr Hughes encouraged any growers wishing to share information about any export business they have conducted, or to seek help in accessing export markets, to contact him by email at email@example.com