Scotland goes after fifth quarter trade

Scotland's red meat businesses are to be given specialised training to help them rekindle trade in the 'fifth quarter', a move that could generate an extra £3 million a year for the industry.

Quality Meat Scotland, the red meat promotion and development body, has been given the go-ahead by the Scottish government to invest part of the FMD recovery package for the sector, announced last year.

The 'fifth quarter' refers to parts of the carcase that are not lean meat, such as offals and hides. QMS has calculated that capitalising on opportunities for red offals, popular in countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, could be worth in the region of £20 a head for cattle and £2 a head for sheep.

Looking at the picture for the entire "fifth quarter", improved returns from hide and skin prices of 5% would add an extra £800,000 annually to red meat industry profitability.

A 5% improvement in value or income from the trade of red and white offals would add over £350,000 a year to industry returns.

The cost saved by not having to dispose of these products, around £3 per cattle beast, would result in savings of over £2 million a year for the industry.

QMS chairman Donald Biggar said: "Trade in the 'fifth quarter' used to be a vibrant market for Scotland's red meat businesses. Not only could they seek a profit from utilising all the parts of the carcase, not just the lean meat, it also saved them expensive costs for disposal.

"Sadly, the beef ban saw export markets for offals and the like dry up and, inevitably, the specialised skills required to harvest these products effectively were lost over the 10-year period.

"The Scottish Government's backing for this proposal will allow QMS to put a package of support in place in Scottish abattoirs over the next two years, covering training, research and equipment.

He added: "There's huge demand for red offals from the Far East and the Middle East and this new project can help Scottish businesses be in a better position to develop what are potentially lucrative new markets. In effect, they'll be turning waste disposal costs into income."

The Scottish government has also asked QMS to carry out a strategic review of Scotland's pig sector. The review will concentrate on six areas, including an assessment of the economic, employment and social contribution of the pig sector to the Scottish economy; provision of slaughter facilities for finished pigs and cull sows; and the impact of input prices.

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