Scotland has a "wealth of assets at its disposal" when it comes to food and drink, according to John Forteith of the Oban-based wholesaler, Forteith Foodservice (3663 Alba).

Speaking at the annual conference of the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) at Crieff at the weekend, the depot general manager said: "We have a huge larder here in Scotland be it wild off the hills, growing on our land or in our seas, or speciality produce. But often the big operators struggle to deal with the diversity of small, local producers."

Forteith shared a journey that has seen the company develop its relationships with local suppliers of quality, fresh produce - working with them to create brands such as Wild Argyll Venison, Argyll Hill Lamb, Argyll Angus, Argyll Pork Producers and Argyll Free Range Eggs which are then delivered across the West Highlands and Islands by Forteith Foodservice.

"Some local producers have little knowledge of their route to market and quite often they have not costed out their products to include distribution, market and other key costs," Forteith explained. "You have to help them give value to their products and give them access to your customer base. I think we all need to think differently about the supplier-producer relationship because ultimately it will give you improved margin and help increase sales and loyalty."

According to Forteith, some of the best new products and opportunities are "right under your nose". He said: "As a member of the SWA Council, we have been discussing ways of taking foodservice forward - this has to be one of them."