From porridge with berries and heather honey, to salmon or trout with seasonalÂ vegetables,Â to venison or beef withÂ red, white or blue potatoesâ€¦ All washed down with some marvellous home-grown tea, craft beer, gin or whisky.
Here in Scotland we have a wonderful larder. We could spend every day enjoying the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me.
As an island nation surroundedÂ by sea, what better ingredient to be the focus ofÂ research and innovationÂ thanÂ seaweed?Â Around the worldÂ it has been used in everything from cosmetics toÂ snacks and has even reached mainstream foods in the form of seaweed tagliatelle and seaweed bacon.Â Seaweed & Co. is leading a Â£100,000 research project, co-funded by Innovate UK, theÂ University of Glasgow, and nutritional foodÂ company, Eat Balanced.Â The project willÂ carry out further researchÂ onÂ how seaweed can overcomeÂ iodine deficiency, particularly in diets which exclude natural sources of this vital nutrient. ResearchÂ intoÂ seaweedâ€™sÂ effectÂ on weight managementÂ andÂ anti-inflammatory propertiesÂ willÂ continue.
In 2018, we will start to hear more about theÂ honeyberry; fruit of the honeysuckle plantÂ known for its high nutrient and vitamin profile.Â The firstÂ honeyberry orchard has been successfully planted in Scotland and a cooperative of farmersÂ and academicsÂ have formed aÂ Knowledge Transfer Partnership withÂ James Hutton Institute. The groupÂ areÂ focussingÂ onÂ developingÂ the highest quality honeyberries and honeyberry products.Â AÂ Honeyberry Gin is alreadyÂ on the market – a collaboration betweenÂ ArbucklesÂ andÂ StrathearnÂ Distillery.
Indeed, the gin renaissance has seen someÂ unique flavoursÂ emerge. Heriot-Watt Universityâ€™sÂ InternationalÂ CentreÂ forÂ Brewing and Distilling, Interface and the Scottish Craft Distillers Association has produced a reference library of botanicals grown in, which has helped many distillers achieve exciting new flavour combinations.
This year, the success story of Scottish Rapeseed Oil will also be celebrated, with 10 years of production byÂ sevenÂ businesses who got togetherÂ with academicsÂ to find out more about its nutritional attributes and unique taste. It has gone from being the â€œnew kid on the blockâ€ to a staple ingredient in many kitchens.
Changes are often driven byÂ the customerÂ and weâ€™ve been busyÂ supporting the industry toÂ innovateÂ several products meeting the needs of healthÂ and ethicalÂ conscious consumers:Â meat-free alternatives for vegans, chocolate thatâ€™s good for the brain and soft drinksÂ containingÂ less sugar. Last yearÂ sawÂ the unloved cauliflower and courgettes gaining in popularityÂ and small innovative start-ups challenging the big brands.
Technology is helping businesses reach consumersÂ inÂ so many ways,Â from social mediaÂ toÂ virtual reality,Â and communication about products and provenanceÂ is nowÂ an integralÂ part of the consumer experience.
Itâ€™s the time for embracing innovative reformulation for health or sustainability reasons, not just for manufacturers, but restaurants, cafes, take-aways and in the home too.Â Interfaceâ€™sÂ forthcoming reformulationÂ event is sure to bring new ideas to the table and offer inspiration from different academic disciplinesÂ and producers.
We donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening with ourÂ islandâ€™s future,Â but perhaps we can make it an exciting and healthy one.
INTERFACE – The knowledge connection for business