Call to use more local produce

Raw chicken breasts
Raw chicken breasts

The Scottish Conservatives have called on the Scottish government and Tayside councils to do more to support local producers as new figures reveal the reliance on overseas imports.

Local authorities across the country spent in excess of £1million on chicken products from Thailand between October 2015 and September 2016.

A regional breakdown showed that Tayside Contracts, which supplies schools in Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross, spent more than £200,000 of that total.

The statistics have been published following a series of Freedom of Information requests from Scottish Conservative MSP Brian Whittle and an investigation by the BBC.

In response, the government has pointed to figures showing that it has increased the amount of Scottish produce used over the past seven years.

Bill Bowman, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North-East region, said the improvement was welcome, but the latest figures make it clear that more needs to be done.

He commented: “I think most people will be surprised, if not shocked to hear that we are importing so much food when we have an abundance of local producers.

“The figures for chicken products in particular are alarming, with questions being raised as to the quality of the product we are giving to our school children.

“There has rightly been a focus on supermarkets to buy local, but this must also be extended to our public sector as well.

“The Scottish Government has made progress in recent years, but there remains much to be done.

“It is clear that public bodies like our local councils and health boards can and should be making more effort to source Scottish produce.

“Our farming sector has been through a lot in recent years, and I think the Scottish Government has a duty to support local producers and make sure that they can compete with the big companies offering cheaper but often lower quality produce from overseas.”