EAST Lothian is rightly renowned for the excellence of the food and drink made by local producers.

Despite the difficulties many businesses have faced, they continue to excel and innovate, bringing new products to market and offering consumers great quality and choice.

Last week, I visited Svetlana Kukharchuk at her shop, The Cheese Lady, in Haddington to congratulate her in person for being named Scottish Business Woman of the Year 2023. Her shop is a prime example of someone being driven by their food passion to make a successful business that offers local consumers something innovative and different.

Svetlana is also on a mission to help end a current anomaly by supporting any emerging artisan or farmhouse cheese producers in East Lothian. So, if you are out there trying to make your own cheese, please contact The Cheese Lady now!

Before visiting Svetlana, I met up with Emma Bouglet, the business manager of East Lothian Food and Drink, which co-ordinates efforts to promote the county’s food and drink excellence. It operates on a Business Improvement District (BID) model and is unique in the food and drink sector. It has about 40 members, as well as over a dozen supporter organisations, such as shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, who sell local produce. Find out more about how you can support local producers at scotlandsfooddrinkcounty.com

Last week, I challenged First Minister Humza Yousaf over recent rail chaos experienced by many on the North Berwick to Edinburgh line. Overcrowding is clearly becoming a problem again, with reports some passengers have not even been able to board trains.

Unfortunately, the First Minister’s complacent reply offered little reassurance that this issue will be addressed soon. I will continue to push for robust and reliable services for rail users.