Local food for everyone

Closed 2 Dec 2021

Opened 20 Aug 2021

Feedback updated 13 Jul 2022

We asked

Local Food Strategy

A formal consultation on the Scottish Government’s Local Food Strategy ran on Citizen Space for 15 weeks from 20 August 2021 to 2 December 2021. We invited views on the draft strategy, and on Scottish Government and partner agency actions under three pillars: connecting people with food; connecting local producers with buyers; harnessing the buying power of public sector procurement.

Vertical farming

The consultation also included an overview and questions relating to vertical farming, a new farming technology which may offer opportunities to help Scotland increase its local food production and bring food production closer to the consumer.

View the original consultation paper.

You said

Respondents reported overall support for the local food strategy and for the actions set out under the three pillars. However, respondents identified a number of barriers to be overcome in order to achieve the aims of the strategy.  These included a need for:

  • A suitable infrastructure and short supply chains.
  • Local food to be affordable and accessible to all, with a Right to Food embodied in local food policies.  It was felt by some that the pandemic has served to expose dysfunctions in the current food system.
  • More land to be made available and accessible for those who wish to enter the market.
  • Financial support and investment, including agricultural subsidy reform.
  • Changes to procurement processes and the introduction of Dynamic Purchasing Systems; extending public sector procurement for local food to all publicly-owned settings; also for central and local government to set an example by ensuring local food is procured. 
  • A comprehensive, holistic and interdisciplinary approach across all relevant policy areas, particularly in relation to the environment; and policy interventions as aids for prioritising local food.
  • Higher levels of partnership working and cooperation.
  • Clear food labelling, for example, using a traffic light system for CO2 emissions, so that the provenance of food is highlighted and consumers can identify food that is truly local.
  • A clear definition of ‘sustainable’.
  • Education and awareness raising of the benefits of local food as well as encouraging consumers to eat seasonal food.
  • Reductions in food waste and use of packaging.

While a number of respondents cited examples of some schools, hospitals or other public institutions that provide access to local food, in general, it was felt that a far greater number of public institutions could do more to purchase local food. 

A wide range of schemes and initiatives were cited by respondents as being part of the movement towards local food with most appearing to be at a localised level.    There may be opportunities to build upon learnings from existing initiatives and share experiences to benefit all.

Vertical farming was seen as needing further research and support. Some respondents saw its potential in relation to improving food security.  High start-up costs, limitations in crop variety, sustainability concerns and concerns about a lack of benefits accruing to local communities were the foremost issues identified.  A majority of respondents preferred to shift the focus onto other local food solutions. An industry workshop was also held which identified areas where vertical farming could fit into the fresh produce supply chain and examined the issues and opportunities experienced by those involved in the sector.

We did

We have published non-confidential responses to the consultation and an independent analysis of the consultation responses.

Work is now underway to address the key barriers identified in the consultation response, building on the ideas and suggestions from the consultation as well as relevant Scottish Government strategies and polices. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders and consider what other engagement might be needed, as we act to support local food in Scotland and mainstream local food considerations within relevant policy areas across the Scottish Government.

Separately, we will continue to learn from the barriers and opportunities highlighted by the consultation to identify where vertical farming can effectively contribute to horticultural production in Scotland.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


image of a variety of fruit and vegetables

Scotland has some of the best food and drink in the world, enjoyed around the globe and creating jobs the length and breadth of the country. Since 2007 the Scottish Government has dramatically improved the landscape for food in Scotland, from school lunches to whisky exports, from allotment provision to agricultural innovation.

The people of Scotland deserve to have access to the best produce Scotland has to offer, whether they’re growing it themselves, buying it directly from a local producer,  choosing it at a convenience store or supermarket, being served it at school, or in any number of other settings. Low income should not be a barrier to a healthy, balanced diet.

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change. More and more, people want to know where their food has come from – who made it, what conditions animals were kept in, how far it has travelled and how it supports local jobs and investment. Local food can offer a lot of the answers.

We have worked with the public, industry and other organisations to make sure our policies deliver for the communities we serve. Ambition 2030, the Good Food Nation policy and the Agriculture Bill set out our aspirations for Scotland to become a Good Food Nation, driving environmentally-sustainable, inclusive growth and making sure everyone can afford a healthy, pleasurable diet.

We want to go further. Local production has enormous potential to enrich lives, improve diets, reduce food miles and keep value in communities. This consultation is a chance to make sure that we’re learning from others, adopting good practice, and removing the barriers that are stopping people growing, using, choosing or buying Scottish food at every opportunity.

Additionally, the SNP manifesto for the 2021 election made a commitment to support the development of vertical, low carbon farms, fuelled by renewable energy, to produce more of our own fruit and vegetables. Given the relevance to local food production, we are also taking the opportunity to seek views on vertical farming within this consultation.

Why your views matter

Part A of this consultation presents the three pillars of the Scottish Government’s local food strategy - connecting people with food; connecting Scottish producers with buyers; and harnessing public sector procurement. It aims to start a conversation about local food in Scotland, inviting contributions about how everyone involved in food in Scotland could work together to build a food system based around quality local production and short and circular supply chains, to make high quality Scottish produce available to all.

Part B of this consultation provides an overview of vertical farming, a technology which may be able to help Scotland increase its local food production and bring food production closer to the consumer. The consultation contains questions on vertical farming which are primarily focused at people and businesses in the food supply chain, as well as inviting suggestions on other technologies which would help Scotland produce more of its own fruit and vegetables.

The responses to this consultation will be analysed and used to inform future policy.  

Read the consultation paper. 

What happens next

The consultation has now closed. Thank you for your input. We will be assessing the feedback received from respondents and will publish a revised document summarising the results of the consultation and setting out a plan to invigorate Scotland’s local food landscape.


  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Economy
  • Farming and Rural
  • Public Sector