THE founder of the Keep Scotland the Brand campaign, Ruth Watson, said she was delighted at the reception given to her and her colleagues when they met MP Pete Wishart, chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

 Wishart has called for the committee to look into the possible effects of Brexit on the Scottish economy and he is particularly keen to find out what will happen to Scotland’s brands.

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So far the UK Government has not included the future of brands protected by the European Union’s Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) scheme – among them are Scotch beef and Scotch lamb – in the Brexit negotiations and PGI was left out of the recent EU-Canada trade deal, giving rise to fears that the vital branding of Scottish food and drink, as well as other products of Scotland, will be adversely affected.  In further recognition of the Keep Scotland The Brand campaign’s success in making branding a national issue, Watson has also been asked to meet the Scottish Government’s Food and Drink Industry Growth Team.

Watson was accompanied to the meeting with Wishart by Jim Fairlie, founder of the Farmers’ Market movement in Scotland, and Ronnie  Graham, managing director of the award-winning Barony Country  Foods whose products for sale  include Arbroath Smokies which  currently has PGI status.

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Wishart emphasised to the deputation, which also included Fair Trade representatives, that the select committee will welcome submissions from anyone with an interest in branding issues across the Scottish economy, from food and drink to clothing and all forms of manufacturing.

Watson said: “I am pleased to see that Scotland’s representatives at Westminster are working across party lines to create a forum for discussion on where the interests of Scottish business and Scotland’s peoples lie in future.  “I am really pleased that the very hard work that is being put on to supporting Scotland’s profile by groups and people across the country is being taken seriously.

“I know that many business representatives from the food and drink and farming industries have been lobbying Holyrood and Westminster to have the importance of provenance taken seriously and I am delighted that Pete Wishart and the Scottish select committee recognises the importance of Scottish brands to our economy.  “Pete Wishart told me that he had lobbied hard to have Scottish branding specifically added to the scope of the select committee’s inquiry and it is a particular interest of his because represents a farming constituency and knows how important provenance is to farmers in particular.”

Watson called for submissions on the issue to be made to the committee “whether you are a farmer who doesn’t want imports from elsewhere being branded as Scotch beef or indeed any with an interest in promoting Scottish food and drink”.

She added: “Our campaign is going really well and it’s good to be recognised but it’s up to people across Scotland to keep it going. We must do so because it is so important for so many areas of the Scottish economy both now and after Brexit.”