In 2020, COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of our industry, from how we work to markets and consumers. Our family, home and personal lives have all changed too because of the pandemic restrictions. There have been challenges for every one of us, and they look set to continue into the new year.


Despite the disruption and uncertainty, food, drink, agriculture and fishing businesses have adapted to keep the nation fed, maintained production and distribution, and shown resilience.


Winston Churchill famously said never let a good crisis go to waste. There are significant opportunities for the sector in our region. Some of our businesses are growing strongly on the back of retail demand and have invested in their processes. Others facing the decline in foodservice have found new routes to market and strengthened the structure of their businesses. Combining agility with a focus on innovation and consumers will be critical as we move from reset and recovery to longer-term growth.


The Scotland food and drink recovery plan, launched in November, recognised the threats posed by coronavirus disruption and Brexit uncertainty. It commits industry and government to invest in market development and direct support to businesses to realise market opportunities at home and internationally. The regional sector priorities of leadership, innovation, and market development directly align with national ambition. The industry in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray will be a driver of national economic recovery.


Looking ahead, ONE will provide programmes and deliver transformational projects to help businesses achieve more and do it faster. Through growth programmes, mentoring and leadership development, market development and export planning, and advanced manufacturing and digital innovation. It has been a tough time for people leading businesses. ONE will continue to provide the industry with safe space to share experiences, discuss challenges, and plan for the future.


SeedPod will give the sector a real competitive advantage in developing foods of the future and increasing productivity. It will be the place to access global consumer insights, product development expertise, and advanced manufacturing processes and technology.


The Seafood Transformation Project’s focus on advanced processing capacity and market development is game-changing for the single largest part of the region’s £2.2 billion food and drink sector.


And developing food tourism will be critical to connecting consumers and producers, building a national and international profile, and supporting recovery and growth in hospitality and tourism.


We all agree that uncertainties and challenges will continue in the short term. Still, our sector and enterprising businesses have a successful history of adapting and innovating in changing circumstances. They will continue to do so. With that in mind, please reflect on what you have achieved individually and collectively this year. Look ahead to 2021, take stock and plan, and make the most of the assistance available to you. Continue to support each other and stay safe over the festive season.


On behalf of the industry board at ONE, I wish you well, and we look forward to working with you in the new year.


Stanley Morrice

Chair, ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture


SeedPod to boost production and exports


The £21 million SeedPod project will give businesses a head start in creating foods of the future and capitalising on global consumer trends.


SeedPod will be a critical regional and national asset that will help businesses to increase the size and value of food and drink production and exports.


SeedPod’s programmes and facilities will accelerate the adoption of advanced manufacturing and use global market insights to inspire businesses to respond to emerging and on-trend foods of the future opportunities. The product development facilities and expertise will drive the premiumisation of the region's produce.


Project delivery is progressing at pace. The concept and detailed design stages are complete, and technical design development is ongoing. The Food Hub (NES) board, chaired by Patrick Machray OBE, has approved the start of the procurement process for the main contractor and will move ahead with planning in the new year.


Seafood Transformation Project


The region's ports receive almost 60% of Scotland's seafood landings, and the £700m turnover processing sector employs more than 4,000 people in our coastal communities.


An ambitious £77m industry-led five-year action and investment plan aims to create at least 900 new jobs, expand industry turnover by a third and radically improve productivity and margins. It will create a sustainable and market-oriented industry that attracts people and investment.


The Seafood Transformation Project (STP) targets new processing capacity and value-adding activity, market development and product innovation, leadership development, quality standards and supply chain investments.


The STP business case, funded by ONE and the Scottish Government, was developed during the year with industry and partners including leading seafood processors, Scottish Government, Aberdeenshire Council, Seafood Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Seafood Association.


The business case is now with Scottish and UK Governments, and the project is attracting partners and funding for the delivery of short-term priority actions to lay the foundations and build momentum for the main project.

rora dairy
Start up to scale up

ONE is giving pre-start, new start and early-stage businesses the chance to learn from people who have successfully made the transition from start-up to growth.
The ONE start-up programme provides a peer-to-peer forum and real-life examples. Scott Fraser of Angus & Oink, Jane Mackie of rora dairy (pictured) and Pete Dignan of Lost Loch Spirits shared their experiences at the first session.

A roundtable workshop focusing on the priority issues for individual new starts follows in the new year.

Food shopping
Consumer insights inform plans

Keeping pace with fast-changing consumer behaviours has been essential for businesses in 2020.
The North East Scotland Food and Drink Network programme successfully pivoted to virtual delivery with reset for recovery webinars covering finance, strategy and the latest market and consumer insights. These included early access to the Levercliff COVID-19 consumer tracking surveys to help companies understand which habits and trends that developed during the year are likely to persist and where opportunities exist for suppliers.
The webinars are supported with online resources that more than 300 businesses have accessed.

Business growth
Business growth support

Leaders of food and drink businesses have never been under increased personal pressure. ONE mentoring and leadership development programmes help business owners and senior managers to share concerns, prioritise, and make informed decisions in the current complex and fast-changing environment.


ONE’s mentoring programme matches experienced businesspeople from the food and drink sector with leaders in growth companies to enable them to share sector-specific experience, insights and provide a trusted sounding board.


Leadership development for a group of CEOs is focusing on one-to-one coaching and will build to a peer-to-peer learning group in 2021 to build knowhow, capability and skills.


ONE is now partnering with professional services and accountancy firms to bring a new financial mentoring programme on stream for the next six months to help businesses address specific commercial and financial challenges.

Market development
Internationalisation and market development

ONE and Scotland Food & Drink co-fund a full-time market development manager for the region. He helps businesses define their market and product strategies, connects them to buyers, and develops their routes to market in the UK and internationally, where ONE co-funds in-market specialists.


ONE continues to work with the 2019 export development programme cohort of companies to realise their growth plans.


An additional resource, in partnership with the Scotland Food & Drink regional food group programme, is being committed to food tourism to grow the number and quality of food and drink producer-based attractions in the region long term. The project will build the excellence, authenticity and sustainability messages to differentiate the region’s produce in the UK and international markets.

Transforming food production

Investments in digital transformation, advanced manufacturing and agri-food tech provide significant productivity gains across the sector.


ONE’s pilot agri-food technology programme is supporting the development of three innovative digital applications. The ONE Enterprise Fund is also providing interest-free repayable loan funding for investment by innovative businesses in new technology, manufacturing and production capacity across food and drink and agriculture.


The application of data has been a success of the pig monitor farm (pictured) project, co-funded by QMS and ONE.


ONE has worked with ANM Group and Scot EID on the co-funded cattle EID project to achieve long-term competitive advantage and production efficiency across the beef cattle supply chain in the region.

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