Retailers have been challenged to make a permanent commitment to Scottish food producers.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said this should be backed with long term contracts –  and fair prices to producers –  to ensure that everyone in the food chain reaps the rewards.

Speaking at the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers conference, Mr Lochhead said that in the wake of the horsemeat scandal many retailers had made promises about increasing local sourcing and shortening supply chains.

Farmers and processors, he said, need more that warm words in the middle of a scandal.

“They need a genuine chage of purchasing culture.

“That’s why today I am challenging retailers to turn their rhetoric into reality and deliver confidence to our livestock producers and food manufacturers.

“I want to see them make a permanent commitment to increasing Scottish sourcing and to demonstrate that commitment through long-term contracts. 

“Farmers need confidence to invest in the future to support livestock numbers as it can take years to see a return on investment.

“Processors also need confidence that orders will be there tomorrow if they are to invest in their plants and the skills of their workforce.

“A long-term commitment to increasing Scottish sourcing will do this and I’m calling on retailers to rise to this challenge and demonstrate their commitment to our future as a food producing nation,” said Mr Lochhead.

The photograph, by Paul Watt, shows a delicious dish of Fife-sourced Scotch Lamb 

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