Yes vote ‘would be a big opportunity for food and drinks sector’

First Minister Alex Salmond
First Minister Alex Salmond

Scotland’s food and drink industry will be boosted by the global publicity generated by a Yes vote in the independence referendum, Alex Salmond has said.

The First Minister was setting out his vision of the gains of independence for the sector during a visit on Tuesday to Eden Mill, a new distillery and brewery in Guardbridge, near St Andrews, Fife.

Independence would be an “opportunity of a lifetime” for the industry, according to Mr Salmond, who has pledged to work with businesses on a new global marketing campaign.

He highlighted a new report from the Bank of Scotland which predicts 10,000 new jobs will be created in the sector in the next five years while turnover is now nearly £14 billion a year.

Mr Salmond said: “Scotland is currently in the international spotlight like never before but the huge boost to Scotland’s global brand generated by a Yes vote - and the transition to independence - will be the opportunity of a lifetime for our food and drink industry to extend their global reach even further.

“More and more people are waking up to the fact that Scotland has a strong and diverse economy on which we can build a more prosperous future with control of key economic levers.”

The First Minister was greeted by dozens of Yes supporters when he arrived at Eden Mill, where he was presented with a cask containing the first whisky to be distilled.

Brewery and distillery owner Paul Miller said: “We are delighted to welcome the First Minister to Eden Mill to officially launch our new distillery and we are delighted his visit comes at this time in Scotland’s story.

“We have every confidence that Scotland’s food and drink sector will thrive with independence - and the news that the independence process and independence day itself will be used to provide a marketing push is also very welcome and will no doubt be a great success.”

Asked about concerns over independence from some parts of the whisky industry, including the future of taxation under independence, Mr Salmond said: “I think the Scotch whisky industry have made the point that they are politically impartial.

“I think we understand and treat the industries of Scotland with fairness and respect.

“There will be times of course when public policy comes into a disagreement with great industries.

“There are no proposals to change the duty on whisky, except, of course, for our proposals on minimum pricing.”