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What does the 'no' vote mean for the food sector?

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Scotland’s decision to continue on as part of the UK will be widely welcomed by the nation’s food and drink industry. Questions over EU membership, the continuance of trade agreements and currency meant that key players in the country’s largest manufacturing sector were beginning to feel increasingly insecure in the run up to the referendum.

The sector’s plans for growth and investment will be boosted by the security offered with Scotland’s continuing membership in the UK and, for the meanwhile, EU. Food and drink export value from Scotland was £5.4 billion in 2012 and the industry aims to grow this to £7 billion by 2017 - UK and EU membership allows for the continuing ability to export competitively and will underpin growth and investment.

There has also been a collective sigh of relief from the fishing industry which was becoming increasingly unsure of its future had the yes campaign been successful. Concerns were raised over fishing quotas in the run-up to the referendum and while the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy has been unpopular in Scotland it still dictates quotas and plays a vital role in sustaining the industry.

Scottish growers and producers that have products protected by Protected Geographical Status, which is administered by the EU, or registered with UK-based assurance schemes will also be welcoming of the result. Many businesses have benefited significantly from PGS and assurance schemes as they are a very effective promotional tool.

Food manufacturers and processors operating in the remainder of the UK that sell products in Scotland will also comforted by the no vote as it will mean business as usual for the foreseeable future.