Enabling constructive conversation between government and business

Our role

It is vital that we build a policy and regulatory environment that supports responsible growth across our industry. It is also crucial to use policy and regulation effectively to underpin Scotland's global reputation for animal welfare, food safety, traceability, sustainability, and quality. We work alongside the Scottish and UK Governments on relevant regulatory and policy areas. We ensure policy development is grounded in the reality of running a food and drink business. Our role is to understand the needs and concerns of all industry businesses and relay these to government, whilst understanding the needs and concerns of government and relaying these to industry.

Key Issue Updates

Our Key Issues Updates regularly unpick the major market policy developments and detail what we and others are doing to respond to them in a way that benefits your business. 

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Our policy work

We aim to be honest and upfront in our dealings with both, recognising that change is necessary to achieve success and that by working together we can increase the pace and scale of change to deliver more for Scotland.

Our policy work is dedicated to helping food and drink businesses in Scotland, with two key aims. Firstly, to understand what businesses across the industry need to achieve responsible growth. Secondly, to work constructively with decision makers across the food and drink landscape, including UK and Scottish Governments, to meet those needs in a way that fits Scotland’s social, economic, and environmental objectives.

Recent policy work has focussed on areas including the Circular Economy, Deposit Return Scheme, products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS), Highly Protected Marine Areas and Migration. We are engaging with teams across different Scottish Government directorates, UK Government and the Scotland Office to explore how we can work together to support responsible growth more broadly. This includes issues such as decarbonising energy and transport, securing investment, workforce and labour, international trade (from a regulatory perspective) and more. 

Our communication with Government and policy work in action

Please see below communications we have had with officials to share the industry’s opinions, updates and recommendations, as well as our commentary on current policy discussions.

Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme

Although now delayed until the UK scheme launches, Scotland’s DRS (Deposit Return Scheme) has been a major policy area for a considerable period. Applying deposits to drinks affects all drinks producers in Scotland, as well as the drinks supply chain. We worked hard to establish constructive dialogue with both industry and government, regularly surveying businesses to assess their readiness.  

Our principal objective is a fair and workable scheme, and we fully respect the democratic process that led to Scotland going ahead of the rest of the UK. One of the challenges that came with that decision was the risk of cross border fraud, which increased complexity and costs. It was also subject to the UK Internal Market Act, a relatively recent piece of legislation that aims to avoid market distortion within the UK. Operating a DRS in one part of the UK and not others requires an exemption to the act.  

The UK Government offered a partial exemption, with a requirement that glass be removed from Scotland’s scheme alongside other requirements to ensure interoperability between other UK schemes as they launched. The decision came when many of Scotland's scheme’s structures were in place and increased uncertainty about how interoperability would be achieved. This led the Scottish Government to delay the scheme. We supported this decision during a meeting chaired by the First Minister, Humza Yousaf, on the back of industry engagement which was clear in its findings – a UK wide scheme is preferred, notwithstanding the effort, time and costs that went into trying to make a standalone scheme work for Scotland. 


We have led a review into the Scottish Government’s Food Processing, Marketing and Cooperation (FPMC) scheme, a fund that has existed for many years and which was paused in 2023. 

We have been engaging businesses and industry experts, including via a survey and interviews, to develop recommendations that will help ensure a future scheme can best meet the needs of businesses, in line with social and environmental objectives.  

We hope to publish our report by July and will continue working with Scottish Government to help develop the new scheme. 

We are involved in the New Deal for Business, announced by the First Minister, which is an attempt to ensure the voice of business is heard by government as it develops policies and regulations that will impact on business. 

As part of our involvement, we are leading a sub-group looking at how businesses can be more involved at the early stages of regulatory development. We are also members of the Regulatory Task Force, co-chaired by Richard Lochhead, Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade. 

Our involvement in this area is intended to help achieve the core aims for our policy work – to foster collaboration and constructive discussions between decision makers and those affected by the decisions being made. 

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Get in touch

Members will be informed about relevant policy work directly by Joe Hind, our Policy Manager. If you are not a member but have any questions, please contact Joe.

Members and non-members can also sign up to our Key Issues Update, where key policy updates are shared.

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Collaboration is key

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