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COVID-19 support for food and drink and agricultural sectors

Find out what support is available to help food and drink businesses and those operating in agricultural sectors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support and guidance for the food and drink sector

  • 09 April: A plan for smart recovery A joint, industry and Scottish Government programme for Scotland’s farming, fishing, food and drink sector.

  • 26 March: Marine Fund Scotland This fund will support investments and jobs in seafood sectors, the marine environment and coastal communities in Scotland. It replaces the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) following the UK’s exit from the EU.
  • 09 March: Seafood Producers Resilience Fund will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and eligible shellfish and trout aquaculture businesses. The deadline for applications for aquaculture undertakings is 23 April 2021. Applications are now closed for fishing vessels.
  • 27 January: The Scottish Brewers Fund is to support Scotland's brewing sector. The Scottish Government  recognises  that this sector has faced unprecedented challenges since March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This fund will be administered through local authorities (your local council) and will provide one-off grants of up to £30,000 to eligible businesses. Local authorities will contact breweries in their area directly to seek the necessary information to confirm their eligibility and process payment.
  • 25 January: The Academy, led by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, is a unique, market-focused, and commercially orientated training programme that helps Scottish food and drink businesses sell themselves, build their brands and thrive in grocery and foodservice markets. 
  • Updated 19 January: COVID-19 Guidance for food business operators and their employees Food Standards Scotland has updated its guidance to cover the measures that apply to pubs and restaurants.
  • 23 November: Food and Drink Recovery Plan The food and drink sector is getting £5 million to help its recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19) and prepare for Brexit, announced today. You can also view a joint industry and Scottish Government programme plan for Scotland's farming, fishing, food and drink sector called Recovering from COVID-19 and fuelling Brexit Preparation.
  • 27 October: COVID-19 guidance on the expansion of hospitality provisions The new levels framework will increase the opportunity for hospitality businesses to operate during different levels of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
  • 17 July: £1m available to help farmers diversify into forestry £1m has been made available through the new Agricultural Transformation Programme to help farmers diversify into forestry and help the fight against climate change. Up to 90% of the cost of establishing woodlands will be covered. Grants will be managed by Scottish Forestry. In addition to this, a new agriculture loan scheme has been announced to help farmers and crofters maintain cashflow during COVID-19.
  • 02 July: COVID-19 guidance for horticulture, fruit and vegetable industry sector 

Coronavirus Information Hub - Scotland Food & Drink

Scotland Food & Drink, working with industry partners, business and government, has created an information hub to help support businesses during COVID-19. For the latest developments, business and financial support available, as well as key resources around workforce and social distancing in the workplace, please visit the hub. 

Visit the Cornonavirus information hub

Testing of key workers

Access to COVID-19 testing in Scotland has been widened. It will now be determined via a prioritisation matrix for key workers that includes food supply chain and food processing workers. A new website has been established for the booking of tests. 

Eligible employers can register and refer staff for appointments or eligible key workers will be able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household. 

View the prioritisation matrix

Employers of key workers can refer staff for appointments by emailing

Employees can self-refer using the UK Gov portal to sign up if you are a key worker and you, or a member of your family, is symptomatic. 

The test will confirm if a person - who is showing symptoms of the virus - actually has it. It will not confirm whether they have had it and have now recovered. You can view the full guidance on the Scottish Government's website

Support Local

Scotland Food & Drink has a new national directory to connect the public with businesses that can supply local, Scottish food and drink products directly to consumers. These businesses may be producers, manufacturers, wholesalers or may be retail and hospitality businesses that stock Scottish products and are now doing home delivery or click and collect. Businesses do not need to be a member of Scotland Food & Drink to be included in this free online directory, you just needs to fill in the form on the website here

My World of Work: Job Hub

A newly launched workforce portal has been developed by Skills Development Scotland to connect those looking for work with those needing additional workforce. Job Hub is a free service which enables employers across Scotland to advertise vacancies to a broad audience through Scotland’s dedicated careers resource My World of Work.

Read more +

Financial support for the seafood industry 

The following funds are available to help businesses and communities within the seafood industry amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New Scheme to Help Aquaculture Sector Preserve Stock

22 June

Aquaculture businesses affected by the collapse of international markets due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can apply to cover the costs of maintaining unsold stock through a new £1.25 million fund.

The scheme, which is being funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, will support businesses by compensating for the costs of transport, processing and cold storage for salmon, trout and shellfish until the end of 2020.

Find out more on

Scottish Seafood Business Resilience Fund

This fund has now closed. Those affected within this sector should go to Find Business Support to explore other funding sources and/or contact Marine Scotland to explore opportunities for support.

Sea Fisheries Hardship Fund

The Sea Fisheries Hardship Fund has been set up to provide emergency hardship support for fishing vessels 12m and under in length.

This initial support will go to those that need it most and whose access to markets has disappeared almost overnight. The Scottish Government has identified and has started contacting vessels who will be directly offered funding. Urgent action is needed to protect these businesses in the short term, so that they can continue to provide food and employment in the long term.

Apply on

Sea Fisheries Hardship Fund (tranche 2)

An additional £3.5m for the over 12m fishing fleet has been announced. This new tranche of funding will benefit around 220 Scottish vessels landing shellfish such as crab, lobster, scallop and langoustine. Payments are being made to help vessels meet fixed costs like mooring fees and insurance. 

Apply on 

Aquaculture Hardship Fund

To apply for a grant under the Aquaculture Hardship Fund, applicants are required to demonstrate that the business operates on a full time basis and have suffered hardship as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Full time aquaculture businesses are defined as any authorised and active business that has recorded sales of aquaculture products either £15,000 (or more) for shellfish and £20,000 (or more) for trout in 2019.

First grant payment will cover two months and will be equivalent to 50% of the average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019 of each business.

Find out more on 

Support from Scotland Food and Drink

Scotland Food & Drink, the industry leadership trade association have a lot of useful information and signposts to support.

You can sign-up to receive daily industry updates from Scotland Food and Drink direct to your email box. 

There's also key FAQ's for different sub-sectors such as distilleries and breweries and farming, as well as information on issues such as key worker designation. 

Visit Scotland Food and Drink

Food Standards Scotland Q&A

COVID-19 guidance for farmers and crofters

Guidance published 15 June 

The Scottish Government guidance provides a summary of information, including:

  • How to support safe working on farms and crofts COVID-19
  • Hygiene measures
  • Farm and croft inspections
  • Keeping employees safe
  • Operating farm shops

View guidance 


Read more +

Support for fruit and vegetable growers recruitment needs

Scotland’s farming union has launched a service to help Scottish fruit and vegetable growers recruit workers who have lost their jobs or are on unpaid leave due to COVID-19.

For those businesses looking to recruit, there is a labour requirement form to complete and return to the NFU allowing details to be added to an interactive map of employment opportunities. For those looking for employment, they are asked to apply using the contact details provided by each farm on the website.

There is now an interactive map on the NFU portal which shows the location of farms looking for staff along with contact details, with anyone interested in applying for work contacting farms directly. If you are a farm business looking for staff, please download and complete the form below and return it to NFU Scotland who will upload your details to the map.

Visit the NFU portal 

Find Business Support portal has been created as a joint partnership portal for all businesses support information in Scotland. We are feeding into the information their, along with Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway and Skills Development Scotland. There a dedicated section in relation to Coronavirus being updated daily, seven days a week. 

Another good source of information is to sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on coronavirus guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the Covid-19 team. Please be aware that understandably this service is being very heavily used at the moment though. 

Visit Find Business Support 

New Portal Launched to Help Scotch Whisky Industry Supply Hand Sanitiser

The Scotch Whisky Association has launched an important tool for companies to help meet the demand of organisations that need supplies of hand sanitiser.

The portal will serve as a conduit between Scotch Whisky distillers, related  industry suppliers and distribution partners and organisations seeking hand sanitiser. It will connect distillers wanting to make hand sanitiser with those who can provide key ingredients, supplies such as bottles, pump-action closures and labels, and companies that can help distribute sanitiser to organisations in need.

Scotch Whisky producers and other relevant businesses will be asked to complete a response form via the SWA website, and the SWA will act as a clearing house for companies seeking the necessary guidance to begin production at scale or in the local community.

Access the portal here

The SWA has worked closely with government, HMRC, HSE and SEPA to overcome regulatory barriers such as that of excise duty and Biocides regulations.

Issued by the Scotch Whisky Association.

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How food and drink businesses are diversifying operations to meet local demand

Businesses across the region are adapting their operations to support local communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about one initiative that's been created in the Outer Hebrides below. 

Eat Drink Hebrides 

Food and drink businesses, including fishermen, restaurants, distilleries and bakeries are all having to change the way they operate in the absence of their usual markets and to comply with social distancing rules.

In an effort to help local businesses feed their communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, through its Rural Food Tourism Places project, partnered with Outer Hebrides Tourism to to create a new Eat Drink Hebrides website to highlight and promote the wonderful produce available within its local area.

The service is free for businesses in the local area to sign up to provide information about what is available, where and how to get it, and make it easier for customers to find out what's available. 

Visit Eat Drink Hebrides

Read more +
Smoked Salmon on oat cakes


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