Raiding the Border larder

Billy Hamilton of the Buccleuch Hotel in St Boswells.
Billy Hamilton of the Buccleuch Hotel in St Boswells.
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Feed tourists Border food, and help boost local producers’ profits by 20 percent, urges Visit Scotland’s new project.

The national tourism agency and the Scottish Government are ploughing £900k into their new three year Taste Our Best Food and Drink Scheme, encouraging Scotland’s eateries and hostelries to include and promote Scottish produce on their menus, with a view to increasing revenue for Scottish food and drink producers by up to 20 percent.

“Visitors prefer to buy food with local provenance,” writes Visit Scotland’s Sharon Makepeace: “Their perception is that food with a story behind it is of better quality, and visitors are willing to pay 3-15 per cent more for food they know is of Scottish or regional origin.

“Businesses and events providing local food enhance the visitor experience and typically enjoy higher level sales - on average 20 per cent more per year.”

Many businesses have joined this quality assurance scheme, she said, including St Boswells’ Whitehouse Country House, which offers locally sourced Scottish produce on 65% of its menu, including Eyemouth fishmonger D.R.Collin and and St Boswells butcher Craig Douglas.

The five- star B&B’s owner Angela Tyrer said: “We have no need to travel beyond our coastal boundaries for food, we can source our best produce in Scotland now and this gives our guests the best possible experience.”

There are other advantages, argues hotelier Billy Hamilton of St Boswells’ Buccleuch Arms: “There is a superb array of wonderful produce available in the Borders which can add a uniqueness to our menus. Discerning customers and visitors to the area like to see fresh, seasonal, local and varietal ingredients on their plates.

“In most instances, we find that local suppliers can react quickly when demand for certain ingredients is high. However, in today’s climate local sourcing also has to be cost-effective. This can be difficult to achieve as uncertainty and unpredictability of supply, due to weather and other external factors, can all add to the price of our ingredients. Building a relationship with our suppliers is important. Working closely alongside them can reap benefits to both parties.”

Paula McDonald, regional director of VisitScotland said: “Taste Our Best is all about encouraging the local tourism industry to recognise the real benefits of sourcing, using and promoting local produce.’’