Scottish lamb industry facing challenge

The Scottish lamb industry faces a challenge to increase consumption of Lamb in the country, Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has claimed. 

Speaking at the opening address at NSA Highland Sheep at Fearn Farm, Tain, McLaren said: “We have a real challenge in Scotland in that Scots don’t eat as much lamb as the rest of the UK, and QMS marketing and PR campaigns work hard to encourage consumers to better appreciate the simplicity and versatility of cooking with Scotch Lamb.”

McLaren said QMS can deliver campaign activity on behalf of the sheep industry in Scotland but is constrained by budgets, given the “very substantial” amount of levy from Scottish sheep and lambs being lost due to sheep being slaughtered south of the border.

However, he praised the dedication of people working in the Scottish industry acknowledging the difficulties faced by sheep farmers. He also highlighted that profitability could be impacted by factors such as the weather during lambing season.

“The extent to which our industry is at the mercy of the weather was, however, brought sharply into focus with the persistent cold and rain later in the spring. This was a heartbreak for many of those running upland and hill flocks – resulting in losses and giving grass growth a major check,” he said.

McLaren said there are steps which can be taken by farmers to improve efficiency by exploring the potential to improve profitability by making the most of grass.

“Likewise there is a limit to how much we can protect ourselves from global influences – such as currency exchange rates - on the prices we receive for our lambs,” he admitted.

Looking forward, McLaren was upbeat about the long term future. “We have a great product in Scotch Lamb – natural, delicious and versatile – and we have a world which is increasingly demanding quality red meat so, despite the challenges we inevitably face, there is a great deal to feel positive about for the long-term.”

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