Scottish consumers are being encouraged to ‘go local’ as part of an initiative aimed at transforming convenience stores into marketplaces selling more local produce.
The initial phase of this initiative will see £100,000 invested in 10 local shops to increase the space given to Scottish products, broaden the range of Scottish products offered and enhance consumer engagement with Scottish products.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said: “Convenience stores have played a vital role supporting their local communities through the pandemic, this initiative offers the chance to enhance their offering by stocking more Scottish produce.
“It will also make a difference for Scottish producers – with many struggling with other markets closed off to them, reaching more customers here at home could make a big difference to their businesses. “
The initiative will be delivered by the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF), with its chief executive Pete Cheema stating: “At a time when the food and drink industry in Scotland faces unprecedented challenges, we are delighted that the Scottish Government is providing funding for the Go Local programme.
“The programme supports not only Scottish retailers but also Scottish manufacturers and will strengthen the entire supply chain.”
One of the pilot stores is Watson’s Grocers in Moniaive, Dumfries and Galloway. Proprietor Graham Watson said: “We as a trade have punched way above our weight over the last few months of the pandemic and it invariably has been the local shop that has made the difference to our communities.
“This new programme will enable me to meet the increased demand from customers for quality Scottish products and to support local producers.”
Grants will be awarded for the installation of new equipment dedicated to locally sourced Scottish products on a 50% match-funding basis, capped at £10,000.
The pilot stores throughout Scotland will be selected by SGF’s key symbol group members as being the stores which best fit the programme criteria. An evaluation of the pilot phase is expected to be completed by June 2021.
SGF will employ a dedicated specialist with extensive experience in grocery retail and local sourcing to influence the macro layout and product selection to maximise the range of Scottish products and their exposure to consumers.
They will work closely with Scotland Food and Drink, other regional organisations and local suppliers to promote the programme.
The Go Local initiative has the same broad message, but is separate from, the Scotland Loves Local campaign which launched last month, urging people to support their local businesses through the pandemic.
It is supported by both the Scottish Government and SGF, and led by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP).
STP chief executive Phil Prentice commented: “The message for us all to think local first is a vital one for our economy – and we welcome any initiative which amplifies that further.
“Convenience stores across the country – and the people who work in them – are part of the fabric of our local communities and high streets, they’ve been there for their customers like never before during 2020.
“It’s great news that they’re going to be championing local producers even more than they already do, giving people yet another brilliant reason to think local first, enjoy fantastic locally-sourced products and support their economy.”