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South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed a new Bank of Scotland report showing expected growth in the food and drink sector.

The report shows that the sector is set to create 10,000 new jobs over the next five years with 66% of companies surveyed expecting to increase their workforce. Mr Lochhead also highlighted how the publicity for Scotland resulting from independence and the new powers which Scotland will gain, will give a further boost to the sector.Commenting Ms McAlpine said:

“I warmly welcome this Bank of Scotland report which predicts that Scotland’s food and drink industry is set to create 10,000 new jobs over the next five years. This will add to the 358,000 people already employed in the sector in almost 34,000 food and drink businesses nationwide. The expected growth is almost double the figure estimated in last year’s report and highlights tremendous confidence in our food and drink sector which has been experiencing phenomenal growth in recent years.

“The expected growth in the sector after Independence is great news for Dumfries and Galloway, where food and drink is a key industry. “Demand for quality Scottish produce is booming at home and abroad, with the industry now generating turnover of over £13 billion a year, and it is important to maximise the social and economic opportunities that come with industry’s exceptional success. There is massive potential for the sector, which has already smashed its own targets six years early thanks to Scotland’s fantastic natural larder, iconic products, strong global brands, excellent provenance credentials and industry innovation.

” With the powers and publicity resulting from Scottish independence our food and drink sector can grow even further. The global focus on Scotland as a result of the referendum, and right through to Independence day and beyond, provides another fantastic opportunity to keep our produce in the global spotlight, increasing sales and exports as a result. And of course, for our friends around the world, there is no better drink to toast Scottish independence with, than a fantastic single malt whisky!

” Furthermore with the powers of independence we will prioritise promotion of our food and drink exports in markets around the world, ensure all of the levy income paid by our farmers and fishermen goes to promote Scottish produce unlike at present, and we can secure a massive European funding boost to help our farming and fishing sectors which underpin the success of Scotland’s food and drink industry. Food and drink will be an economic pillar of an independent Scotland. In contrast the biggest threat to our food and drink sector is being taken out of EU as a result of the Tories in / out referendum.

“More than half of Scottish food and drink firms surveyed for the Bank of Scotland report are now investing or planning to reach new overseas customers in the next five years. I have no doubt that the new Scotland Food & Drink Export Plan – which involves the Scottish Government and its agencies working closely with industry to increase international sales in new and emerging markets for premium products – will result in even more doors opening for Scottish businesses over the coming years.”