Fresh ideas boost appetite for sustainable growth

Industry trade association Scotland Food & Drink is not only helping resilient companies become key to the post-Covid recovery, but also positioning the sector as a leader in our transition to a net zero economy, writes Ian Carstairs, sustainability team leader at Scottish Enterprise.

Scotland is synonymous with iconic food and drink, from whisky to Aberdeen Angus beef, as well as being the home of great inventors and engineers –  showing us to be innovative across industries, including the food and drink sector.

Despite the toll of Covid-19, Scottish firms have strived towards sustainability and many have net zero and sustainability plans in place, such as the Scotch Whisky Association’s Sustainability Strategy and Scottish Salmon Sustainability Charter – further enhancing Scotland’s reputation for environmental excellence.

The launch of Scottish Enterprise’s Net Zero Framework for Action, with the clue in the title ‘action,’ underpins the focus of economic development and aim to help Scottish companies align with Scotland’s net zero target by 2045.

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government also focuses on achieving a just transition and good green jobs as the country works towards net zero through decarbonising buildings, transport and investing in the environment.

Scottish Enterprise’s sustainability specialist advice, financial support and guidance has allowed many businesses across the food and drink sector to take the road to net zero and helped businesses save more than 700,000 tonnes of CO2 over the last few years.

Here are some examples from across Scotland’s food and drink sector:

Arbikie based in Angus launched its climate positive gin and vodka, Nàdar, across the US. A genuine first for the drinks industry, with a carbon footprint of -1.54 kg CO2e per 700ml bottle, it is at the forefront of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Scottish Enterprise has supported Arbikie over several years.

lnchDairnie Distillery is a modern distillery in Glenrothes which has been in production since 2015 producing single malt that is matured on-site in seasoned oak casks. Scottish Enterprise specialists worked with the company to assess its carbon footprint, identifying hotspots, and providing a baseline for future assessments. This has also paved the way towards its Environmental Policy and Sustainability Report.

Glenmorangie in Tain recently launched its new innovation distillery, The Lighthouse, that will be partly powered by biogas, created in Glenmorangie’s own anaerobic digestion plant from the by-products of distillation. SE helped with a R&D grant of £1 million towards the project that will be the first of its kind in the industry. 

North British Distillery in Edinburgh is embarking on a multi-million-pound sustainable distilling project supported by a £2.5m grant from Scottish Enterprise to modernise whisky distilling, secure jobs and fuel industry growth.

It plans to design, develop and commercialise a modernised distilling process.

We Hae Meat in Ayrshire has a Sustainability Strategy in place that was supported by Scottish Enterprise. The food producer is committed to improving its environmental performance and has reduced its carbon footprint by 87% over the last five years following investment in a combined heat and power system.

Border Biscuits gained support from Scottish Enterprise to help with a carbon footprint exercise around packaging. The Lanark biscuit maker has eliminated 90% of plastic from its core retail packaging as part of a wider £1.6m investment into its products and processes. This 90% reduction in plastic saves 537 tonnes of CO2e from the manufacturing process each year; the equivalent of 895 homes improving their energy efficiency. 


Edinburgh-based agri-tech company IGS is seen as a leading light in the indoor farming sector. The firm offers customers a ‘farm in a box’ solution which uses 95% less water than traditional farming and can deliver produce below current market prices. Scottish Enterprise has provided help since 2014 to the firm, from research services to look at markets in the UK and globally, to workplace innovation support, and more.

Scottish seaweed company SHORE is an Alness-based seaweed processing firm that expanded its product range following support from Scottish Enterprise and a business development grant from Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE). The investment led to a new range of plant-based snacks and a revamping of its existing bagged snack range. The company’s mission is to create an edible seaweed industry of scale in Scotland that is 100% sustainable, good for the coastal environment and beneficial for rural communities.

John Davidson, Scotland Food & Drink Strategy and External Relations Director, said: “If Scotland’s food and drink industry is going to play its part in tackling the climate emergency, then supporting sustainable businesses will be key. That is why the work Scottish Enterprise is doing is so important.

“As part of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, tackling the climate emergency is at the heart of our green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The intrinsic link between protecting Scotland’s natural capital and growing the food and drink industry is key to this recovery, which will position our sector as a leader in Scotland’s transition to a net zero economy.

“From sustainable seaweed to Scotch and all our industries and innovation in between, let’s show the world how it can be done. Let’s Do Net Zero.”

For more details on what you can do check out Scottish Enterprise’s sustainability guides or visit Net Zero Nation at



Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight shines a light on industry’s net zero aims ambitions

EVERY September, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight celebrates the people, products and places that are building Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink, writes John Davidson Strategy and External Relations Director at Scotland Food & Drink.

A key part of that reputation is the high environmental standards the Scottish food and drink industry holds itself to and the ambitious net zero goals it is working towards.

Having kicked off on Saturday, September 4 and finishing this coming Sunday (19), Fortnight has highlighted all the incredible work being done in Scotland’s food and drink industry, including the strides being made in sustainability. With COP26 less than two months away, and the climate emergency at the fore of everyone’s minds, sustainability was built into the heart of this year’s Fortnight plans.

Scottish food and drink businesses, across sectors and regions, are pushing the sustainability agenda and finding new, innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprints and help the industry reach its net zero targets. By using Fortnight to shine a spotlight on these businesses and practices we have been able to inform and educate consumers on our industry’s green credentials. 

As part of the Fortnight, we have been encouraging food and drink businesses with a story to tell on sustainability, net zero or the environment to promote themselves and their efforts through the hashtag #ScotFoodFort21 on our social media channels.

Scotland’s food and drink businesses have an amazing green story to tell, from Mossgiel Farm who are working towards becoming entirely single use plastic free, to Arbikie Distillery who producing carbon positive gin and vodka in collaboration with the Hutton Institute. These kinds of stories are happening all across Scotland, and we have been encouraging businesses to speak up on all they are doing.


We are seeing shoppers leaning more and more towards products which boast sustainable credentials, net zero ambitions or an environmental story. And this trend is only going to become more apparent as we move forward. This Fortnight we knew we needed to make these stories central to our promotion.

Ultimately the Fortnight aims to encourage Scottish shoppers to support and buy more Scottish food and drink in shops, restaurants, cafés, markets and tourist attractions across Scotland.

We know that consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability, and Fortnight was an opportunity to show that they can choose sustainable and choose Scottish.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992