Scottish red meat sector positioned to tackle Brexit challenge

The Scottish red meat sector has been told that it has a strong future ahead of it, despite the obstacles that may be presented by Brexit. 

Speaking at Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) Annual Review 2016/2017, chief executive of the organisation Alan Clarke said that, since joining the industry body in the summer, he has made an effort to meet those working across all aspects of the supply chain.

“What quickly became apparent is that this is an industry like no other,” he explained. “Those working in it have a huge amount of passion, pride and professionalism and work incredibly hard to produce the beef, lamb and pork which has earned a place at the top of the global menu.”

Clarke said the industry has embraced opportunities such as world-leading whole-chain, whole-of-life quality assurance and a commitment to animal welfare.

“We also have strong sustainability credentials and a willingness to embrace new ideas and technology. These are strengths which will prevail no matter what unfolds in the months ahead in terms of the emerging Brexit situation.”

A strength of the industry, noted Clarke, is the way the supply chain is able to communicate and engage with one another. This has the potential to boost the industry in the wake of the political climate.

“The political landscape is changing and there are many unknowns and uncertainties. However, it is business as usual until the full extent of Brexit is known,” he said.

“While we continue to plan and prepare, it is important the red meat industry continues to focus on their businesses and opportunities to improve profitability and efficiency.”

Moving forward, QMS’ strategy is to “shape a sustainable and prospering Scottish red meat industry”, with the role that the organisation plays in the Brexit era being more important for the industry than ever before.

Considering QMS’ industry reach, including farmers, auctioneers, feed suppliers, hauliers, primary processors, secondary processors, foodservice providers, butchers, retailers, chefs and consumers, Clarke said the levy board’s reach leaves no corner of the industry left behind.

“Our activities are much more wide-ranging than perhaps is understood, and include marketing, quality assurance, health and education, economics and industry development,” he said.

“More than 77% of external levy spend is on customer and consumer-facing activity, primarily marketing and promotion and we will continue to look at ways to most effectively promote our high-quality brands.”

It is a priority for QMS to ensure that value for money for every pound of levy income is well spent, said Clarke.

During the year to 31 March, QMS’ total income was £6.4 million (m) – compared to £6.3m last year. Income from the statutory red meat levy for the year was just under £4m, slightly lower than 2016.

Meanwhile, during the year more than £900,000 of income grants was used to deliver qualifying activities, equating to an increase of 15% on the previous year.

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