James Withers—Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink
Scotland Food & Drink is the industry leadership body, established in 2007, to spearhead the industry’s growth to £16.5 billion by 2017. As a membership organisation, it seeks to support food and drink businesses of all sizes and scale to achieve their ambitions. The organisation has 350 companies in its membership of all shapes and sizes.
The organisation brings together the range of industry organisations working within the food and drink industry in Scotland. It has defined a common purpose and developed an industry-wide strategy for growth. This level of collaboration, supported by the Scottish Government and their enterprise agencies who are active partners, is now seen as a model for other sectors of the Scottish economy to follow.
Scotland Food & Drink has a focus on growing the sales of Scottish produce both in home markets and internationally and it seeks to develop Scotland’s reputation as A Land of Food & Drinks.
Prior to joining the organisation, James was Chief Executive of the National Farmers Union Scotland and spent 12 years there working for the nation’s farming industry. He is also a Board member of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, which is driving forward a new tourism strategy for Scotland; a strategy which recognises the key link between that industry and the food and drink sector.
Last year, James was involved in the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup where Scotland’s world class food and drink was showcased. He was a member of the Scottish Government Leadership Forum which helped to develop the National Food & Drink Policy. In 2013, James chaired a review of the Scottish dairy sector on behalf of Ministers, the recommendations of which are now being put into action, seeking to build Scotland’s dairy brand and tap into new markets.
James is 38 and lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Joanna, and their two children. A sports fanatic, James’ days on the sports field are fading but he remains firmly committed to watching sport from the safety of his sofa.