Bright future for red meat, says QMS boss

There are a number of signs that point to an “encouraging future” for the Scottish red meat industry, according to Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

McLaren, speaking at the launch of QMS’s Annual Review last Friday (7 November), said he believed the ability of the industry to seize opportunities, coupled with the growing global demand for red meat and premium products, meant the industry could be optimistic going forward.

McLaren added that following reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the sector would move into a more focused and driven era. “The sense of trepidation earlier in 2014 was particularly keenly felt in the beef sector, where most analysis of the predicted CAP changes suggested a significant reduction in payments by the end of the transition period,” he said.

“We now have more clarity on the way forward and I am confident in producers’ ability to get to grips with what the changes will mean for their individual businesses.”

Reasons to be positive included the £45 million Beef Efficiency Scheme announced by rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead in June 2014, while McLaren explained that sow numbers have also steadied after two years of decline. “There are some welcome indications that producers are rebuilding herds and investing to take advantage of the better margins achievable, though we must remain vigilant to prevent the threat of new diseases from overseas.”

The QMS chairman also welcomed the recent news that a new Scottish co-operative collaboration, Quality Pork Limited (QPL), has taken ownership of the Brechin processing plant.

Uel Morton, QMS chief executive, then dealt with some positive financial figures at the launch: “Another important part of our strategy is leveraging additional financial resources for the Scottish red meat industry. During the past year, QMS secured £1.7 million in grants (compared with £1.04 million last year) to undertake work on behalf of the industry.”

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