Scottish farmers may be some of the only individuals in the world with a positive outlook on the pandemic. Though the past year snarled supply chains, the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) says that in that time period, businesses and supply chains found new ways of operating. ‘There are challenges ahead, but opportunities too, and never has there been a better time to capitalise on this common purpose’.
What Is SAOS?
It’s an organisation owned by its members. Farmers join because they’re looking for specialist services that they can’t exactly get elsewhere. SAOS offers strategic planning, events and training, advice, and governance services for new agricultural co-ops. The group does a large amount of work with supply chains, which, as you can imagine, has been critical over the course of the pandemic.
What Has It Achieved?
Yes, you read that right. Even during 2020-21, SAOS managed to launch community and farming projects.
- Formed a free-range egg producers group
- Reduced waste in the cheese sector
- Ran a local vegetable supply chain organisation
- Delivered 80+ days of advice and mentorship
- Promoted Scottish co-ops with the help of SEFARI
- Helped establish oats, hemp, and sugar beet producer groups
Further, it supported its members through Brexit, helped farmers adapt to climate change, and worked to strengthen Scottish supply chains with its Market-Driven Supply Chain (MDSC) Programme.
More About MDSC
Understanding how to fix logistics problems is time-consuming, SAOS explained. It’s a headache when farmers generate good sales—close the deal—and can’t deliver their crops as promised due to delays in the supply chain. That’s why the group launched its MDSC programme, which brings specialist supply chain expertise to co-ops and farmers in Scotland.
Overall, the project was deemed a success. And judging by these numbers, SAOS is right:
- Supported 148 businesses, 1,545 co-op members, and 48 organisations
- Achieved more than £55mn of sales and efficiency savings
- Secured £1.8mn in additional capital investments
- Entered 20 new markets
- Protected 1,200+ jobs
- Deployed three new technologies
I’m looking to find a dark cloud out of pure scepticism that anything could work out this well, but it seems that SAOS truly is set for its 2025 strategy rollout. We’ll close with Mark Clark’s words as he steps down from his position as chair, leaving it to the next generation: ‘SAOS’ new five-year plan has much to contribute to the future of Scotland’s farming and food industry—and I’m delighted to leave the organisation in such fine fettle’.