Need for UK to boost red meat production, says QMS

The UK must increase red meat production to ensure exporters can take advantage of new markets, according to Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS’) head of economics services Stuart Ashworth.

Ashworth said there had been a number of announcements about potential new export markets in recent months, including an agreement in principle between the EU and Canada, the relaxing of US restrictions on beef imports, trade talks between the EU and US and the recent UK trade deal with Singapore.

However, he added it could take years for deals to be finalised and physical trade to take place. “Of all these announcements the most advanced relates to Singapore, where several UK plants have been approved by the Singaporean authorities to trade beef with them.”

In the meantime, he said, the “real challenge” would be increasing UK red meat production to ensure the opportunities could be grasped once they emerged.

Ashworth said the growing global population and economic recovery should boost worldwide demand for red meat in the coming years. “The Food and Agriculture Organisation has stated that global demand for meat will increase by more than 10% by 2022, but that most of that growth will be in developing countries.  The consequence of that is that global trade will increase,” he said.

He added that, for now, tariffs and sanitary barriers dominated international trade discussions, but growing demand should lead to more UK red meat trade deals in the future.

“International global trade is a complex topic, with significant timescale between a political agreement and the physical trade taking place. However, the increasing discussion of bilateral and multilateral agreements illustrates the growing potential of international trade for the Scottish livestock industry,” he said.

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