The Scottish Whisky Association is to partner with Scotland Food and Drink in a new initiative to help expand Scottish exports.

The ambition is to increase Scotland’s food and drink exports from £5.1 billion to £7.1 billion by 2017.

The two organisations have agreed a new Export Collaboration Charter, which was launched today at Paterson Arran, a shortbread maker in Livingston.

Whisky accounts for some 80% of the current export trade.

The charter will build on the expertise developed by the whisky industry in driving global sales to allow the complementary production sectors to build on Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink, from salmon to seafood and beyond.

Working together with Scottish Development International, the industries are committing to sharing best practice, knowledge, and networks across the food and drink sector.

Specific intitiatives include working sessions with export specialists to encourage best practice; the creation of a company match-making service to encourages internationalisation; discussion of trade policy mechanisms and opportunities to tackle trade barriers; and partnering at whisky events in export markets.

Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and the environment, said: “
“It’s great that the SWA is showing its commitment to the food sector, as well as whisky, and I believe today’s charter will potentially be a game-changer.

“Working together can lead to great things and I am confident that this collaboration will play a crucial role in helping the industry grow in strength and stature internationally.”

David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association chief, said: “We want to help Scottish food and drink sectors learn from the success of Scotch – the country’s leading single product export – and this new collaboration shows our commitment to working with food and drink exporters to deliver growth for Scotland.

“Our export growth has been based on long-term thinking on trade issues, a focus on opening markets through close collaboration with governments and the EU, and collaboration at industry level.

“We hope to help other sectors do the same. In addition, export success for other food and drink sectors will build on Scotland’s growing reputation for premium products that can only be good news for the growth of Scotch whisky.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “When we launched our new food and drink export strategy, we explicitly prioritised working more collaboratively with partners and learning from Scotch whisky’s success.

“This charter delivers on that and will allow it to happen in a deeper way than we’ve seen before.

“Our export ambition is clear; to sell a broader range of products in a broader range of markets. “New food and drink trade specialists, working through Scottish Development International, are now in place in ten cities around the globe. 

“However, the spirit of partnership and collaboration being shown by the whisky industry will bring crucial new expertise and experience to our activity in the coming years.”