Scotland’s national agency for the food and drink industry has made a rallying call for consumers to buy Scottish beer this Christmas as it unveils a new strategy to expand and protect the brewing sector.

Scotland Food & Drink said it hopes to grow brewing into a £1 billion industry by 2030 and make Scottish brewed beer the most desirable in the world, "while being a meaningful part of a healthy lifestyle".

The plan has been detailed following the findings of a year-long study carried out by the brewing industry leadership group, a new body commissioned by the national agency to identify challenges in the Scottish brewing sector, which supports over 8,000 jobs, and its supply chain.

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The group found the Scottish industry must move to protect its market from craft beers from abroad.

The report sets out recommendations to help achieve its target which include promoting brewing as a career of choice to fill current and future skills gaps.

It recommends developing policy and regulation that make Scotland an attractive place to brew and buy beer.

HeraldScotland:

Hilary Jones, chair of the group, above, called for consumers to support the 130 operating Scottish breweries as challenges are were said to be "stifling the industry".

She said: "Even though we have an unrivalled track record producing great beer and centuries of history behind us, the rising popularity of global craft beer means that Scotland needs to sharpen its game if it is to remain an international leader.

"The strategy brings a collaborative approach between over a dozen agencies to tackle several challenges including infrastructure, tax, marketing, exporting and the availability of a ready-skilled group of people who see brewing as a desirable career of choice."

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She added: "We want to increase the perceived value of our beer by focussing on craftsmanship and quality.

"We want consumers to buy Scottish beer, rather than imported beer and to drink beer responsibly.

"We also want to plug into the new food and drink tourism strategy and improve our brewing destination experiences, educating our visitors and sending an international message that we are a high-quality brewing nation."

Scotland’s brewers and supply chain were consulted through the membership body the Brewers Association of Scotland , the Society of Independent Brewers Association, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale.