Scottish meat exports grow, despite supply constraints

Tight domestic supplies of Scottish red meat have not dented the industry’s ambitions to grow its exports, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren has said.

According to the chairman, Scottish red meat exporters attending Anuga, one of the world’s largest food fairs, appeared confident about the opportunities to grow business overseas, despite a tough economy.

He said, yesterday at the fair in Cologne, Germany, that red meat exports were important and worth around £78m in the last year, which was up by around 2% on last year.

“While there is demand from overseas customers for the very top end of quality products from Scotland, there is also encouraging volume demand from overseas markets for fifth-quarter and lower-value products. This is good news in terms of optimising returns for the whole carcase,” he said.

McLaren noted that a continued demand for Scottish products overseas was a positive signal to livestock producers in the long-term.

He said: “There’s no doubt that the global economic slump has been making trading conditions challenging, but the good news is that despite tight supplies Scotch Beef and Lamb exporters appear to be holding their own year on year and we are maintaining a strong market presence which augurs very well for the future.”

New business

Meanwhile, the meat boss revealed that QMS’ ‘refreshed export strategy’, announced at Anuga in 2011, had shown some success.

The strategy, which focused on developing opportunities in Germany and the Nordics, as well as strengthening markets in France, Italy and Benelux, has recently brought in a major new customer from Germany, Recke Fleischwaren.

Already, the family-owned business, which is based in Berlin and has a turnover of €50m, has taken two shipments of Scottish red meat for its cash-and-carry operations.

Market update

The Continent remains one of Scotland’s main export customers, with France accounting for around 48% of trade, followed by the Benelux countries and Italy. “There has been some encouraging growth in Sweden and Norway as well as Germany,” McLaren added.

“UK exports of sheepmeat were up by 8% for the first seven months of the year and export deliveries of lamb from Scotland this year have been encouraging, given the prevailing economic climate.

“Customs & Excise data shows UK beef exports are down by almost 4% year-on-year so far in 2013, and this is likely to be a reflection of lower production, with the Scottish position likely to be very similar.”

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