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Evaluation of the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan


This report details the results of an internal evaluation of the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan undertaken by the Scottish Enterprise (SE) Appraisal and Evaluation Team on behalf of Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scotland Food and Drink (SF&D) Export Partnership. Initially launched in 2014, the Export Plan is a five-year plan that details the sector’s approach to achieving the Industry Strategy’s objective of significantly increasing exports, namely the introduction of Food and Drink In-Market Specialists in a number of key markets globally. The evaluation aimed to gain a greater understanding of the impact arising from the Export Plan to date, and provide insight into additional needs and areas of improvement for any future Export Plan.


The evaluation employed a mixed methodology combining desk research with a series of online surveys and stakeholder consultations. The five main components of the methodology were: a desk review of all monitoring data held by SDI; a series of telephone consultations with representatives from the Export Partnership; an online survey of contacts made in market by the Specialists, including importers, distributors and other agents; a second online survey of Scottish companies; and a third online survey of all 11 In-Market Specialists currently in post.


The evaluation found that from the outset, the Export Plan has demonstrated clear strategic fit with the objectives of the various partners and this continues to be the case today. From Scottish Government, through the Enterprise Agencies (SE and HIE) and the Industry Leadership Group (SF&D) to the individual sub-sector trade bodies, the desire to increase Scottish food and drink exports is clear. There appears to be a clear appetite amongst the Food and Drink Export Group to continue to support the Export Plan and the In-market Specialists. Overall, the Export Plan appears to have been an overwhelming success for the Scottish food and drink sector, contributing to Scottish exports in the sector reaching record levels and helping to raise global awareness of the Scottish offering. In addition, the Strategic Evaluation of SDI activities when reviewing the delivery models used for support specifically highlighted the introduction of the In-market Specialists as a key success and an approach that should be considered for other key sectors in the future. In terms of return on investment, figures suggest the net GVA associated with the Export Plan is £26.4million. GVA as a percentage of turnover for the Scottish food and drink sector over the period 2012-2016 was 36%, according to the Scottish Annual Business Statistics. Therefore, it is estimated that a net turnover of £72.5million will be generated over the lifetime of the Export Plan. However, despite high levels of satisfaction with the support provided, the Export Group must ensure that challenges both in-market and domestically are tackled to allow Scotland to continue to reap the benefits of the pipeline of export opportunities now being identified.


A number of areas were highlighted for consideration, including: the need to ensure the Scottish business base has the capability and capacity to maximise the export opportunities; expanding markets; in-market promotion; and introducing other potential partners to the Export Partnership.

Author Scottish Enterprise
Published Year 2019
Report Type Evaluation
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Internationalisation
  • Sectors
    Food and drink