The Support Local directory boasts a range of producers, retailers and hospitality firms to point you in the right direction when it comes to buying from suppliers near you.
While the pandemic has inspired many people over the past 10 months to purchase from local food businesses, one of Scotland’s leading food and drink bodies has been hard at work making them easier to find.
The Support Local directory was launched in April last year by Scotland Food & Drink, just weeks after the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK and having been added to over the year, has now become a comprehensive guide. The food body has worked hard to put Scottish produce in front of consumers, giving small businesses to national giants the opportunity to be listed on the platform.
Designed to point consumers in the direction of Scottish businesses growing, distilling, brewing or creating their own products and dishes, the platform is open to food and drink producers, restaurants, cafes and bars, butchers, fishmongers, farmers and more.
The one-stop-shop for purchasing food and drink from local suppliers took two weeks to build, with 100 businesses having already signed up before the platform’s official launch – that grew to more than 300 within the space of a month.
The directory’s inception resulted in it being a solution for many businesses who had lost their usual routes to market when hospitality and other channels were closed.
Many businesses which previously supplied the food service and hospitality sector pivoted to consumer-facing e-commerce to continue trading and the platform helped drive the public to these firm’s websites where they can purchase goods freely.
Every Scottish region and sub-section of the industry is represented, giving consumers the opportunity to sample new products or support their favourite brands.
Now, more than 420 companies have signed up to be listed.
One producer who has seen a real benefit in being associated with the Support Local platform is Amity Fish Company in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The seafood wholesaler traditionally sells to the foodservice sector, however when Covid-19 hit they had to pivot and totally restructure their business, going online and selling direct to consumers now.
As a result the seafood delivery firm now sends fresh Scottish produce across the UK on a daily basis.
Jenna Urquhart, digital content coordinator at the firm, said: “One huge benefit we found was actively taking part in the body’s Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight online celebration last September.
“We were chosen as one of the directory members to supply seafood boxes to a selection of Scottish food bloggers. The dishes they created with our produce was fantastic and there were some beautiful and inventive dishes that really showcased Scotland’s larder!
“Being part of the directory has given us the opportunity to make great connections with others in the industry and also helps us increase our profile to a wider audience across the country, which as a small company who deliver UK-wide is very important.
“Amity are always keen to shout about Scotland’s amazing produce at any given opportunity and this was another great way to do that.”
More advocates for supporting local
Dundee-based fifth generation family bakery firm Fisher & Donaldson has also seen the benefit of being involved in the directory.
With more and more people looking to support local and purchase handmade goods crafted by Scottish companies, Chloe Milne, marketing manager of the business is delighted that this shift in shopping at local stores seems to have flourished during what has been the most challenging time for many firms.
“Scotland has such a wealth of brilliant food businesses. During the current pandemic, people are spending their money more locally, wishing to shop smaller with companies they can trust, especially when it comes to food; they want to know how it’s made and where it comes from,” said Chloe.
“We are a fifth generation family business focused on quality handmade products that taste great. We use traditional recipes, many unchanged for decades, meaning you know what you’re getting.
“To be featured in a directory alongside all the other wonderful food and drink businesses our country has to offer is a great thing. A one-stop shop to see what is on offer on your doorstep is a valuable and useable tool to help people find the best food on offer across Scotland.”
Showcasing the best of local food and drink
In Fife’s East Neuk, Rosie Jack, manager of Bowhouse, has also seen a drive to support local producers.
Bowhouse Link is restocked and ready for this weeks shopping. Remember the online market is open until Wednesday at 1 pm each week. https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/bowhouse-link/shop#/shop
Basing her business on showcasing some of the best food and drink producers in the region and also having their own on-site butchery, Bowhouse has adapted to the on-going pandemic in many ways, getting fresh produce from local firms out to hundreds of customers.
Signing up to the Support Local directory, she has also seen a benefit of being involved.
She said: “Buying and eating local is what Bowhouse is all about so we were happy to add our details to the Support Local directory.
“Any activity that shows customers were they can access local food and drink is useful and we’re particularly using it to point local people towards the makers based at Bowhouse and our Bowhouse Link service, which is an online market that allows local producers to sell direct to customers in one easy transaction.”
Lucy Husband, UK market development director at Scotland Food & Drink, added: “So many of Scotland’s food and drink businesses lost their core markets during 2020 and with lockdown extended into 2021, many will have to continue to pivot and find new ways of reaching their customers.
“The Support Local directory, which now has over 450 local food and drinks businesses listed, has been backed by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership and is a real collaborative effort. It has continued to be a valued resource over the past few months, providing an easy way for consumers to find food and drink producers in their local area and has enabled them to buy directly.
“As well as significant marketing activities from Scotland Food & Drink throughout the year, most recently influencer activity during Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, there will be a continued investment into marketing and other activities in 2021 which we hope will allow more people to support their local food and drink businesses.”
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