Scottish meat industry reports a difficult year in 2013

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has launched its Red Meat Industry Profile for last year, which shows that despite the sector generating over £2 billion, 2013 was a tough year.

The Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile “draws together a wide range of the latest information on the Scottish red meat sector and encompasses the whole production chain from producer to final consumer”.

It showed that revenues were down around 5.5% on 2012, with contractions in the processing sector as well as in primary production.

Pig producers saw a slight increase in sow numbers, but the Scottish suckler herd decreased in size for a third year, with 428,500 head or 0.7% less than in 2012, while the ewe flock contracted by 2%.

Speaking at the launch of the publication, Iain Macdonald, QMS economics analyst, said producers had struggled, due to poor weather in 2012, with harsh weather continuing through to May 2013.

Scottish red meat production in 2013 dropped 11% on 2012, with abattoir output down 10%. Slaughterings dropped across the beef, sheep and pig sectors. The profile noted: “Cattle slaughterings at Scottish abattoirs fell 1% to 474,000 head, and the total volume of beef produced fell by nearly 2.5%, due to lighter carcase weights. Although there was only a marginal decline in the total sheep kill in 2013, annual production volumes fell 3% due to lighter carcase weights. The closure of the largest pig slaughtering facility in October 2012 resulted in the Scottish pig kill and production volumes nearly halving in 2013. Processor output fell to an even greater extent, due to a major abattoir killing pigs on a contract basis rather than adding value within its own business.”

The report showed that, in 2013, processors’ total revenue was estimated to be down by 10% to £870m “as higher wholesale prices only partially offset a 12% decline in livestock throughput”.

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