Scotland's food and drink sector could be set for a major jobs boom, according to a new report.
The Bank of Scotland surveyed over 100 Scottish food and drink businesses and found that two-thirds are looking to expand their workforce over the next five years. Between them they were looking to create 2,000 new jobs and if replicated across the rest of the industry this figure could rise to 10,000 additional roles.
Food and drink companies north of the border have been experiencing somewhat of a boom of late which has sparked optimism for the future. Respondents to the survey forecast a 15 per cent growth over the next five year with exporting and overseas markets highlighted as two key areas for an increase in revenue.
Companies are now looking to expand their reach into different corners of the globe with 86 per cent looking to pursue new customers in Western Europe while 67 per cent plan to set their sights on the Far East and Asia. However, there is still a number of challenges to overcome such as a volatility in the cost of raw material and issues surrounding sustainability.
Graham Blair, SME area director Bank of Scotland, said: "Scotland’s food and drink sector is already a key growth driver for Scotland’s economy, and this report gives a taste of how it will become even stronger.
"The sector has vastly outperformed the wider economy in recent years, growing strongly during the downturn but as global economic conditions continue to improve its growth is likely accelerate even further in the next five years."
One of the main challenges the food and drink sector in the UK has faced of late has been Russia's decision to impose a full embargo on exports to the country. It was announced in the wake of further sanctions put in place by the European Union and the US as tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated.
The move could impact on the fishing industry in Scotland which exports £17 million of frozen fish to Russia on an annual basis.