Perthshire MSP Jim Fairlie has insisted a row with supermarket giant Marks and Spencer about a lack of Scottish-sourced raspberries was “nothing to do with the constitution”.
We previously told how the SNP MSP raised concerns that the Marks and Spencer in his nearest city had been stocking fruit from Portugal and south England despite there being “world class” crops being grown locally.
Fairlie told the supermarket on social media: “Extremely disappointed in this, still no Scottish raspberries on your shelves in Perth despite a bumper crop, and you’re bringing up from England and shipping from Portugal.
“Where is your commitment to our Scottish growers?”
Speaking to The Courier following his tweet, Fairlie has explained that his complaint had “nothing to do with the constitution”.
He told the newspaper: “This is about protecting the viability and security of our food growers so they have a future and we’ve got a resilient supply of local food in this country.
“This is just one example. Whether it’s berries, beef, lamb or chicken it doesn’t matter. These businesses have to have a certainty of market.”
He continued: “It’s been two years since I’ve been in Parliament, but I’ve been making this argument since 1999.
“It’s not an anti-English thing or a constitutional issue, it’s about protecting the Scottish brand which has taken decades to build up.
“It’s one of the unique selling points we have as a food destination country. We have got a fantastic story to tell. That’s the bit I want to highlight.
“We need to build on it so when people come to the UK they know Scotland is a destination because the food and drink is fabulous.”
Fairlie said without support from supermarkets, farmers could be forced to give up on their crops altogether.
He explained that his tweet was a “gentle reminder” that supermarkets rely on Scottish growers and had a wider responsibility.
He added: “Supermarkets control over 90% of our grocery sales, they have a responsibility to make sure our resilience as a food producer is there.
“Sometimes they might have to take a bit of a hit in terms of their profits in order to make sure producers can continue and we’ve got that world-class produce on the shelves.
“That’s what all this is about. Unfortunately, Twitter isn’t the place to get those points across.”
Responding to the MSP, M&S said: “We work with many Scottish farms – sourcing raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries.
“Our Scottish raspberries will start being harvested this month – and will be available in all 94 Scottish stores this summer.”