Q&A with The Buyer

Kirsty George is well known and accomplished within the Scottish food and drink industry. Following university, Kirsty held a number of roles, including General Manager of a Scottish salmon smokehouse, which provided her with a solid network of Scottish distributors and a comprehensive understanding of local suppliers. Her experience allows her to make a great impact in her current role as Local Sourcing Manager at Scotmid.

Kirsty works with a broad range of brands across Scotland, not only sourcing new and exciting products, but ensuring Scotmid supports local suppliers in establishing a presence in the Scottish food and drink industry. We catch up with Kirsty to find out more about her role and some of the Scottish suppliers she works with.

Briefly, what is it like being a buyer at Scotmid?

Being the buyer at Scotmid is really fast paced and exciting – the role encompasses far beyond that of solely sourcing new and exciting products. We have a real focus at Scotmid to be at the forefront of innovation and offer a point of difference for our customers. To that end, there’s a lot of developing new concepts and landing them in our stores as we progress them – in the last year alone we’ve included offers like refilleries, revitalised in-store butchers, focused on a Scotmid Favourites range and also developed our frozen ready meals.

How did you get into it?

After leaving university I landed a brilliant graduate position at Stockans Oatcakes. Since then, I’ve had a number of jobs within the Scottish F&D industry, including at Scotland Food & Drink. All of my roles have allowed me to get a full 360° view of the industry, from farm to fork and crucially, build a great network of colleagues and collaborators.

How does Scotmid support regional producers from Scotland?

We’re conscious that a lot of the smaller producers we work with are at the start of their journey or work as part of a small team. We ensure we support our suppliers from establishing their route to market all the way though to using our platforms to boost their profile in store and widen their audience. We also have a graduate working within our business, who has a specific role designed around supporting the journey of these smaller producers and ensuring they maximise their opportunity in our stores.

What advice would you give producers who have a fantastic product and want it to be seen?

It’s important to build your relationships and reputation amongst the food and drink community – in Scotland we’re particularly lucky to have an industry where producers work together and support one another. I’ll often receive recommendations or introductions from suppliers I already work with. There’s also great work going on with bodies such as Scotland Food & Drink, Seafood Scotland and QMS to boost the profiles of these brilliant producers on the world stage, so I think having a relationship with an industry body who can offer access to support and contacts is really important for some of our smaller producers in particular. Finally, I would suggest creating lots of your own, innovative content for your brand – make it easy for people to talk/write about you!

What are some of your favourite local suppliers that are now available at Scotmid?

We work with lots of brilliant local producers and stock a broad range of brands made in Scotland that many customers don’t initially realise are made in Scotland! Current favourites include Bon Accord, Confectious by Aldomak, Stockans Orkney Oatcakes and Arran Ice Cream.

If you had to create a meal using only local produce, what would it be?

To start: Smoked langoustines from East Pier Smokehouse, St. Monans

Mains: Gigha Halibut, buttery new potatoes from Angus and a giant fresh green salad from the garden with a Summer Harvest Oil dressing

Desserts: A summer pavlova with local berries. At Scotmid, we stock a selection of Castleton fruits, cream from Graham’s Family Dairy and even meringues from Lee’s of Scotland if you don’t want to take on the meringue making!

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