Food security unit to be established to safeguard against shortages

It is hoped the unit will act as a mechanism to monitor any risks.

Food security unit to be established to safeguard against shortages iStock

A new dedicated food security unit is to be established to ensure supplies in Scotland are secure in the face of global pressures.

Recommendations were made by a taskforce established following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The crisis in the Eastern European country has led to food shortages, with prices rising as a result.

Working jointly with the food and drink industry, the taskforce concluded that while there is a greater strain on the food supply chain than there has been for several years, immediate supplies of food and animal feed in Scotland are secure.

However, it has recommended the creation of the new unit, which would be based within the Scottish Government.

It also suggests supporting improved cash flow for individual businesses and farmers amongst its other recommendations.

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon explained that the creation of new food security structures should “offer assurances” that the Government and industry will react quickly to any future shocks.

“The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global food system and the impacts are being felt by producers and consumers in Scotland,” she said.

“This has compounded the challenging operating environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the hard Brexit imposed on Scotland by the UK Government, which has inflicted significant and lasting damage on our world class food and drink industries, rural and coastal communities.

“We have already taken steps to respond to the situation, including improving business cash flow via our payments strategy for 2022, to ensure farmers and crofters are paid as early as possible.

“The rapid establishment of our taskforce – which is the first within the UK – and the creation of new food security structures should offer assurances that government and industry will be in a position to react as quickly as possible to any future shocks.”

Chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, said the unit will act as a mechanism to monitor risks.

“This report marks a turning point in how we respond to growing food security pressures in this country,” he said.

“New structures, embedded into government, working in close collaboration with industry will make food security central to our thinking in future.

“The new Food Security Unit will be a mechanism to monitor risks, identify ways to increase resilience in food production and supply, and respond rapidly to emerging issues.”

He added: “The rapid response by Scottish Government in establishing this taskforce has been important. I sincerely hope we see the same focus emerge at UK level.

“Whilst immediate food and feed supplies are secure, for many businesses in the food and drink supply chain, the financial and operational pressure is as challenging as it has ever been.

“If the situation deteriorates further, we may need to consider other interventions.”