An unwavering commitment to buying, serving and selling local produce on board a fleet of ferries has won a nomination at Scotland’s Food and Drink Awards.
Operator of the UK’s largest ferry network, Caledonian MacBrayne is a major supporter of many small and medium sized producers across its 200-mile network, which has seen it listed for the Scottish Sourcing award.
From serving local and, more broadly, Scottish produce in its dishes, through to stocking food, drink, artisan skincare and craft products, and local interest books and newspapers in its on board shops, the company has shown long term commitment to helping businesses in some of Scotland’s most fragile economic areas.
“For many of our passengers, the ferry crossing is their first introduction to the islands,” said CalMac’s Onboard Development Manager Anne Mitchell. “The communities we serve make, grow, bake, brew and distil some truly unique and delicious items and we are delighted to give these talented producers a platform for their businesses, as well as giving our customers a true taste of the areas we represent.
“We are absolutely passionate about this commitment which is of immediate and obvious benefit to many businesses across our network. And we serve all of this up in our no-frills, good value, quality ingredients menu in our Mariners Cafes on board.”
All 10 of the company’s major ferries are Taste our Best accredited by VisitScotland for using 50 per cent local and Scottish sourced ingredients, and they were joined recently by the galley on MV Lochnevis – the smallest vessel in the fleet to make the grade.
Of CalMac’s 62 on-board suppliers, more than 40 of them are from across the company’s immediate network area – all of which generates an annual £5.2 million spend with these producers.
In addition, CalMac has, in recent years, developed a programme of pop-up tastings and other opportunities on board its ferries – last year, for example, these ranged from book signings for an author from Coll, through to craft ale tastings for Colonsay Brewery and whisky from Bowmore; from the attendance of a National Trust for Scotland ranger on Arran sailings, through to tastings for Gigha halibut. All have been warmly received and have given various businesses, organisations and individuals a valuable opportunity to showcase their wares.
“The pop-ups are really popular with our customers,” continued Anne. “We have quite a variety of different people, businesses and groups which come on board a number of our vessels, offering everything from tastings to advice on what to do on the islands.
“We even promote businesses which, for one reason or another – usually because it is a perishable item beyond our price point – we don’t stock or serve. But they are island producers and a pop-up on the ferry can really help them to broaden their public profile.”
The awards ceremony will take place in Edinburgh on June 2.