Casting our minds ahead to tomorrow can sometimes feel challenging, so futuristic thinking was required last week when in partnership with the industry body Scotland Food and Drink we held a workshop to explore the key market and consumer trends relevant to Scottish farming, fishing, food and drink in 2030. With the Royal Highland Show underway this week showcasing the very best of farming food and rural life, we know that the industry has emerged as one of Scotland’s best performing domestic and fastest growing export sectors.

The key market and consumer trends include lifestyle, health, urbanisation, demographics and consumer conscience, which are complex and multifaceted and will only be tackled by knowledge from multiple disciplines. Over 50 social scientists, artists, scientists, engineers and academics from other disciplines explored what knowledge, expertise and technologies could support the emerging opportunities and transform food and drink industry. The underpinning principle of the Ambition 2030 strategy is collaboration and a desire for Scotland to be a world leader in responsible, profitable growth. There was considerable evidence of collaboration at the workshop, recognising that to solve the big challenges the industry faces we need others’ knowledge.

I was very encouraged and excited that the workshop offered a first step to harnessing ideas, people, and resources from across disciplinary and organisational boundaries of 16 Universities, three research institutes, two research pools and two innovation centres. And with a multiplicity of ideas emerging from the group discussions, we are off to a good start in realising Ambition 2030. Now if I could press fast forward button to 2030 I wonder what I will be having for my tea?

22 June 2017