Scotland meat industry needs to maximise carcase to expand exports, says QMS

Scotland doesn’t currently have the volumes of meat to significantly grow its export market, but is looking to maximise returns for the whole carcase, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) head of marketing Laurent Vernet.

Speaking to at food and drink show Sial, in Paris, Vernet said that Scotland increased its exports by 4% last year, and this was “what we are happy and comfortable with”. Vernet explained that 80% of Scottish production is for the UK market, and therefore the priority: “This is our bread and butter and we cannot risk it.”

According to Vernet, the QMS stand at Sial was visited by a lot of interested parties, including a number of Asians from places such as Hong Kong, India and Macau. However, he said: “Our volumes are too low so we cannot expand exports in volume.”

However, he explained that Scotland’s export market could grow in value, if not in volume, by finding good markets for every part of the carcase: “We want to increase the value of what we already export. For example, the fifth quarter – we can take care of it, present it well and increase its value.” There are markets for everything, he added – for example bones to Africa.

QMS chairman Jim McLaren, also speaking at Sial, agreed: “There is 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.”

France is the main importer of red meat from Scotland, accounting for 46% of total exports. The other main countries importing from Scotland are Belgium and The Netherlands, together accounting for 24%, with Italy at 15% and the Nordic countries at 6%.

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