Scotland is famous for producing some of the finest food and drink products in the world - think whisky, beef, salmon, game, oats and raspberries. It also has some unique regional specialities - wonderful butteries from Aberdeenshire, Selkirk Bannocks (fruit buns) from the Borders, Smokies from Arbroath, not to mention all the shellfish from the West Coast.

Over the years, Scotland has worked hard to raise awareness of this rich diversity and provenance. The splendour of its mountains, whispering glens and deep blue lochs have helped the region forge a link with quality, taste, and goodness in consumers' minds.

For instance, The Rannoch Smokery is a family-run smoked meat and game business and a shining example of Scottish entrepreneurial spirit, which has earned it a spate of accolades, most recently in the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards.

Driven by a passion for quality in terms of production methods and taste, its products have earned listings in the major multiples, as well as Harrods, Jenners and Selfridges.

Then there is RR Spink, owned by Scot Trout & Salmon, which has been carefully selecting and preparing premium smoked trout, salmon, mackerel and kipper fillets by hand since the 1700s. The brand has been cleverly packaged to highlight its fishing history and attachment to Arbroath's famous smokery, and is the proud holder of two royal warrants.

Dairy producer Rowan Glen is another growing company that knows how to play the tartan card well. Dr David Dobbin, chief executive of Dale Farm, which bought the company in 2002, says: "The Rowan Glen brand builds on this positive perception of Scotland with products all delivering signature qualities of great-tasting, authentically Scottish foods."

Fort Matilda-based Golden Casket Group is a confectionery manufacturer still working with traditional methods of cooking in open copper pans and hand stripping.

All these companies have managed to create powerful brands which draw heavily on their Scottishness with clear success. However, as the market expands and the competition intensifies, Scottish companies are having to work harder to promote their products.

In short, it's no longer enough for producers to simply hang their hats on the Scottish peg. "Many companies still believe that if it's Scottish it will sell, but that is not true any more," says Karol Rzepkowski, MD of Johnson Sustainable Seafoods, whose organic sustainable farmed cod brand No Catch Just Cod swept the board at the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards.

"Companies need to work harder to identify the right sort of consumers and to orient their offers accordingly," he adds.

By employing innovative feeding and welfare techniques, the No Catch Just Cod brand is meeting the growing demand for high quality, sustainable and environmentally responsible food.

Rzepkowski's company has aggressive plans to take a bigger bite out of the market this year. It is working to develop its relationship with retailers, as well as investing heavily in range development. "Scottishness has a role to play, but the important thing is to focus on what matters most to consumers, which, for us, is taste and organic credentials," says Rzepkowski.

Dale Farm's David Dobbin agrees. "The key to success now is being market-led and having a clear understanding of consumer needs and also of individual retailer propositions to their customers."

This need for progressive and creative consumer-led product development is keenly felt by a large swathe of Scottish food and drink producers, as is a strong entrepreneurial spirit, particularly for some of the smaller, growing companies.

Highlands-based Rannoch is a case in point. The lack of transport infrastructure has prompted the company to forge links with other local producers, such as Castle McLellan, the Kirkcudbright-based fine pâté manufacturer.

The companies have teamed up to share distribution costs to some of the larger retailers, a collaboration that has also helped both gain listings with major retailers.