Surging sales of locally sourced foods and a boom in craft beer. So how about “craft” Scotch whisky to help revive export sales? These fell last year for the first time in a decade, declining by seven per cent.

Senior figures from across the industry met in Edinburgh yesterday to discuss issues ranging from innovation through exporting and competitiveness.

The industry is a big contributor to the UK economy, cresting around £5 billion each year in value and supporting more than 40,000 jobs. It accounts for 80 per cent of Scottish food and drink exports.

Chief executive DAVID FROST said 2014 “was challenging for us in global markets, but our performance is pretty impressive. The underlying picture is an encouraging one. Last year six new distilleries saw spirit flow for the first time and we’ve already seen another this year. We are aware of 30 or more projects for new distilleries. We haven’t seen anything like this for many years.”

IAN SHACKLETON, Managing Director, Nomura raised the growing popularity in America of “craft” brands. With product provenance and reputation cited as key qualities in yesterday’s panel debates, it may be a short step for Scotland’s biggest exporter to catch the trend and project its ‘craft’ roots.

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