Scottish farmers’ union calls for abattoir co-operation

The National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) has called on Scotland’s abattoir sector to work more closely with producers to ensure beef cattle meet market specifications. 

It said factors out of farmers’ control had made getting the correct shape, weight, fat and marbling content in the carcase extremely challenging and that, for the second year running, long waiting times at abattoirs meant many farmers had been forced into delivering out-of-spec cattle. Those selling prime cattle in the early part of the year had again seen beef prices fall below profitable levels.

NFUS will hold a series of meetings around Scotland in the autumn to tackle the problem, inviting beef producers, abattoirs, processors and representatives of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

NFUS livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam, a beef farmer from Aberdeenshire, said: “For any finisher, it is infuriating to see your prime stock drift out of spec because you have had your order delayed or abattoir specifications have changed. It becomes critical for a business if it happens in a falling market.

“Every link in the beef chain must play its part, from farmers producing in-spec cattle to processors and retailers producing well-packaged and labelled Scotch beef that appeals to consumers at home and abroad.”

Adam added that, as well as discussing how to grow consumption at home, it would welcome ideas on how the industry could increase its international sales of the Scotch beef brand, which currently account for less than 6% of the market.

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