Scottish Business Buzz

Scottish Business Buzz (03.01.18)

Written by Michelle Rodger

Scotland’s vital food and drink brands must be protected after Brexit and be given a “special place” in negotiations, according to Brexit minister Mike Russell.

Under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) scheme the EU guarantees no trademark interference with the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used as a description of an agricultural product or a foodstuff.

Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb, and Scottish Farmed Salmon are three of the 14 protected food names in Scotland with the Arbroath Smokie, Dunlop Cheese and Stornoway Black Pudding among the localities given PGI status. Dundee Cake, Forfar Bridies and Ayrshire Early New Potatoes are currently in the advanced stages of consideration for PGI status.

Scotland makes more use of Scottish branding abroad than any of the rest of the UK. Between them the current 14 PGI food and drink products earn more than £1 billion in exports in Scotland and Russell fears that Brexit will damage that income as counterfeiters try to cash in on the Scottish reputation for quality.

In a special article for The National in connection with its Save Our Scotland Brand campaign, Russell said: “We will need to ensure that in the negotiations on this topic there is a special place for Scottish PGIs in any new structure that emerges. Indeed we should be developing our own plans for such a system, and ones that integrate well with the continuing European process.”

The Co-op has confirmed plans to open 100 new food stores across the UK in 2018, creating an estimated 1,600 jobs.
The community retailer will invest more than £160 million in new stores and major makeovers for a further 150 of its outlets. Up to 18 stores are planned for Scotland, with more than 20 new stores set to open in London.

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A Scottish salmon company is the latest food firm to adopt ‘chemical fingerprinting’ to protect its products from fraudsters.

Loch Duart, based in Sutherland and the Hebrides, has teamed up with New Zealand food science firm Oritain whose technique has been used to improve the traceability and authentication of food.

It is estimated that food fraud affects at least 10% of the global food supply chain at a cost to the industry in excess of $50 billion per year.

The chemical fingerprint works in a way similar to a normal fingerprint, only the unique identifier is chemical.

The concept, developed in close collaboration with New Zealand’s University of Otago, is based on the notion that animals or fish raised on a farm will eat the same food.

Chemical fingerprinting is becoming increasingly popular as a food authenticator mechanism, particularly in the wake of the 2013 horse meat scandal and as premium products face the threat of counterfeiters.

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A new law compelling all larger firms to publish details of their gender pay gap seems likely to be breached when it comes into force, an expert has warned, with only about one in 20 firms having made public the necessary data so far.

By early April 2018 all organisations employing 250 or more people are required to declare their gender pay gap – the difference between the average earnings of male and female workers.

With just over three months until the deadline, only 493 of the 9000 eligible organisations have done so.

UK Government legislation now requires organisations with 250 or more workers to report annually on any pay gap, with public sector bodies to do this by March 30 2018. The private and voluntary sectors have until April 5.

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A GLASGOW-based telecoms firm has secured a new contract worth more than £1 million.

Exsel Group has clinched the deal to provide services such as cloud solutions, wi-fi, hosted IP telephony and printing to Flooring Republic, which has stores throughout the UK.  Exsel has recently switched its headquarters to Glasgow Business Park. The company, which also has offices in Aberdeen and Newcastle, had previously been based at CityPark in the east end of Glasgow.

Plans are in place to build on its current headcount of 27 by expanding operations with a new office in Livingston.

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Experts have predicted that the North Sea oil and gas industry can look forward to brighter times next year with firms adapted to the new normal of relatively low crude prices.

Following three years of deep cost cutting in response to the sharp fall in the oil price since 2014, companies are expected to put renewed emphasis on growth in 2018.

The wave of company failures which blighted the area may have about run its course.

The improvement in sentiment partly reflects growing confidence the crude price will remain at around $60 per barrel after exporting countries agreed to extend curbs on production through 2018.

Crude sold for less than $30/bbl in the first quarter of 2016, before Opec members decided in November of that year to limit output to support the market.

Signs that stability is returning to the market have helped trigger a surge in mergers and acquisitions activity in the North Sea. Trade body Oil & Gas UK reckons the value of deals jumped to around $8bn from $2bn in 2016.

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About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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