Taste Our Best award rolled out to region’s pubs and bars

Quality Assurance award scheme, designed to promote the use of Scottish produce, could see the region’s pubs and bars attracting more customers.

The Taste Our Best award, a joint initiative between the Scottish Government and VisitScotland, is being extended to help build stronger links between the places people visit and the food and drink experiences on offer.

Around 58% of all visitors and 71% of overseas visitors to Scotland eat in a pub or bar, whilst almost half (49%) of all visitors want to try local food, placing the region’s licensed premises in a perfect position to capitalise on a growing interest in the nation’s natural larder.

Research has shown that visitors are willing to pay up to 15% more for food that is of Scottish or regional origin and businesses that provide local food can typically enjoy higher level sales of up to 20% per year, providing a real financial incentive for tourism businesses to sign up to the accreditation scheme.

In 2015, the Year of Food and Drink, Scotland will celebrate the role that Scottish cuisine plays in shaping the country’s economic success. Food and drink is an integral part of the tourism experience and the industry is worth £13bn a year. The target is to grow this to £16.5bn by 2017.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Food Richard Lochhead said:

“Scotland produces some of the best food and drink to be found anywhere in the world and it is fantastic that the Taste our Best scheme - which celebrates and promotes our outstanding natural larder - is being rolled out to pubs and bars. With visitors willing to pay a premium for fresh, local produce, Scotland’s top quality food and drink is clearly a unique selling point and amazing opportunity for businesses across the country.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “A stop in a pub or bar is a must for many visitors to Scotland, so these establishments can play a crucial role in helping create an appetite for Scotland’s natural produce. We know that visitors enjoy authentic, quality Scottish food and drink, with many willing to pay up to 15% more for food that they know is of Scottish origin. By sourcing and promoting local produce, businesses have a real opportunity to boost both their finances and their reputation.”

Colin Wilkinson, Scottish Licensed Trade Association Secretary said: “Figures show that Scotland’s pubs and bars are a major tourist attraction for both domestic and foreign visitors and they have an important role to play in promoting, not only their own unique character and warmth of welcome, but also everything that is “Scottish-ness”, from our culture to our natural larder. With visitor interest increasing for Scottish produce to be on the menu and the opportunity for pubs and bars to reap the benefits of providing Scottish premium products, the “Taste our Best” award scheme is the ideal platform to promote what Scotland’s Food and Drink has to offer.”

The Taste Our Best award scheme is the latest addition to VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance (QA) Schemes, which aim to drive up quality in tourism products across the country. Taste Our Best provides businesses with an assessment of the overall quality of the visitor experience and the use of Scottish produce on their menu by qualified advisors, with those meeting the necessary criteria gaining the award.

For more information, visit: www.visitscotland.org/business_support/quality_assurance/restaurants/taste_our_best.aspx