The Scottish larder is bursting with a colourful array of first-class food and drink ­products and culinary stars. Its beef and seafood industries enjoy a sterling reputation, while its whiskies are coveted the world over.

However, there is another little-known industry that is set to start making big waves in the land north of the border - herbs.

Scotherbs, a family-run business based in the Carse of Gowrie, midway between Perth and Dundee, is one company that is taking full advantage of what could well be Scotland's best-kept secret - and with significant success. The company was founded in 1987 after Robert Wilson started growing and supplying fresh culinary herbs to the catering trade and discovered an astronomically high demand for his products.

Nearly 20 years later, the ­company now produces a variety of mint, ­seasonal herbs and flowers, seven types of salad leaf, and 19 different types of herbs, including well-known varieties such as basil and parsley, and some less familiar, such as chervil and sorrel, all year round.

The company supplies fresh herbs to a number of speciality food outlets, as well as to Tesco stores throughout the UK, and is now the largest supplier and grower of fresh culinary herbs in Scotland. ­"People just don't associate herbs with Scotland, but it's a thriving business," says Wilson's daughter, Fiona ­Lammotte, who manages the operational side of things.

With its location in the fertile ­valley of the River Tay, the business is ideally placed for herb production. Scotland's milder climate and higher levels of rainfall has meant that the company has not felt the ­negative impacts of the recent drought ­conditions nearly as keenly as other growers in England.

The current consumer trend ­towards healthier eating is another major plus point for the industry. As well as being an effective and tasty source of vitamins and minerals, fresh herbs are now also recognised as the healthy alternative to salt, and Scotherbs is carrying out lots of work to promote these points on its point of sale and promotional material. The company has also recently developed a new range of fresh, preservative-free, handmade pestos, salsas and sauces under the 'Ariba love your food!' label.

The fact that consumers are ­becoming more adventurous in their cooking habits is another string to the industry's bow. Celebrity chefs, such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, have been promoting the use of herbs in a big way, while also working to educate people over how best to use, cook and eat herbs. "Education is vital for our industry," adds Lammotte. "We are incessantly looking for ways to inform consumers. We sponsor events and competitions, visit ­local schools to give cookery lessons and are constantly looking at different formats to make our products as ­accessible and easy to use as we can."

Another Scottish success story is family-run business The Really Garlicky Company. From their farm at the foot of the Cawdor Hills, Glen and Gilli Allingham have pioneered the growing of garlic in the Highlands. It has taken the husband and wife team three years to complete growing trials and settle on a strain of garlic that is locally produced and offers a string of powerful flavour, texture and health benefits.

The company produces a range of premium products such as fresh garlic scapes (the green shoots), bread, butter, aioli, oatcakes, relish and rubs alongside its porcelain garlic bulbs, and has listings in hundreds of farm and speciality shops across Scotland as well as Waitrose and Tesco.

"When we started the company in 2001 we had just one and a half acres - today we have almost 35. The company has gone from strength to strength, and this area of Scotland has proved ideal for growing, thanks to the milder weather conditions and longer days. In fact, we are amazed that no one else has cottoned on yet," says Gilli.

Garlic is not a staple part of the Scottish diet, so like Scotherbs, education remains top of the company's priorities, after growth. And following its best harvest this year, Gillli and Glen are now busy planning a serious expansion programme.n