Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is celebrating the Year of Food and Drink 2015 at the London Boat Show today (9 January) with a local produce tasting.
The showcase offers event visitors the chance to sample a range of Scottish favourites from whisky and craft beer, to salmon and smoked mussels.
It is being organised to demonstrate the wide range of food and drink available across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, which is renowned as an excellent sailing destination, to a global audience.
Highland Food and Drink ambassadors Alastair Dobson from Taste of Arran and Virginia Sumsion of Foods from Argyll will be at the ExCeL centre in London for the high profile boating event to talk attendees through a selection of innovative food and drink produce.
The team hope that attending the event will raise the profile of food and drink producers to a wide audience, which supports HIE’s goal of supporting businesses to sell overseas. The tasting will take place on the Sail Scotland stand.
Sail Scotland – the national marketing organisation for sailing tourism – is exhibiting at the London Boat Show to highlight the great sailing areas in Scotland, covering all levels of facilities and experience. These include the delights and civilisation of the Firth of Clyde, Argyll's attractive coast and lochs, the drama and landscapes of the Isle of Skye, the North West Highlands of Scotland and the Western Isles, the charms of Orkney and Shetland and the excellent facilities available on the East Coast.
Daniel Steel from Sail Scotland explained: “There are endless reasons to sail Scotland, from clear and uncrowded seas to attractions, facilities and eateries. 2015 will be a little bit special as we celebrate the tastes and produce that are abundant around our shores. So if you’re eating onshore or afloat, make sure you get a real flavour of Scotland in 2015.”
Virginia Sumsion, Food from Argyll, commented: “Visitors to our shores, coming from sea or land, are able to find and taste great food from Scotland's Larder wherever they land, not just in the central belt. The Year of Food & Drink is giving every location in the Highlands and Islands the chance to highlight what is on offer. Argyll alone has a coastline longer than the entire coastline of France. Its intricate coast provides safe havens for sailors and the shellfish they can feast on. The shore can be as bountiful as the sea and experience, tradition and innovation are found amongst those bringing the produce to the table. We can't wait to show it to you - bring on 2015.”
Anna Allan, Head of Business Events, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “The food and drink sector in the Highlands and Islands contributes £1 billion to the economy annually and supports 32,000 jobs. This is becoming a booming sector for the Highlands and Islands, with home sales up 30% since 2007 and overseas sales up 50%. Whisky is leading the charge – making it Scotland’s leading export – with Scottish salmon our top food export.
“We are delighted to be collaborating to bring Highlands and Islands produce to this high profile event in London and help our supported businesses to reach new markets and increase their revenues. The London Boat Show is a great place to showcase our region’s local produce to a global audience. ”
Alastair Dobson, Managing Director, Taste of Arran and Arran Dairies, said: “I was born and brought up on the Isle of Arran on Scotland’s majestic west coast so it was only when I travelled around with work and also sailed in other destinations that I realised how fantastic the sailing and food and drink really is in Scotland. It is a marriage made in heaven, world class sailing at all levels, world class food and restaurants to dine in and access to a different whisky distillery or craft brewery every day to wash it all down, and it is just on your doorstep.
"The West of Scotland and its Islands have it all, whether it be full on racing or leisure sailing you can be rest assured of fantastic views, clean, clear air and the most fabulous gastronomic hidden gems. Come and join us in 2015 Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.”
Produce highlights include: