Scotland’s meat sector was given a triple boost as Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead outlined plans to support the industry.
A £1 million campaign will be funded by the Scottish Government to strengthen the Scotch label, develop new markets and support marketing of the Scotch Brands – beef, sheep and pork.
This work will specifically include a £250,000 campaign to enable the sheep industry to develop new markets for lamb and fully exploit the availability of prime Scottish lambs.
Mr Lochhead told the NFU Scotland AGM that both the cattle and sheep sectors required support to help them maximise the image of the scotch brand to make the most of available opportunities.
A wider study – across the meat sector – has also been commissioned to help better understand the market. Among other things, the survey will look at what’s on sale in Scotland and which retailers provide the best support for producers.
Mr Lochhead said:
“Scotch is a world renowned brand and products with that label are among the best quality that can be found anywhere. Consumers have confidence in the brand and it is important that in the current climate, when people are looking very carefully at the provenance of their food, that we continue to build our good reputation both at home and overseas and continue to capitalise on new market opportunities.
“In the sheep sector particularly, I share farmers’ disappointment that market returns have recently eased back after a prolonged period of high prices for both lambs and ewes, partly due to the weakness of the pound. But I believe there are grounds for optimism. Scotland produces a natural, premium product which consumers at home and abroad are prepared to pay for. We need to get better at maximising the opportunities and the support unveiled today is designed to do just that.
“I have also commissioned an independent audit across the meat sector to get a better understanding of the market place and retailer practises. We need to know what is on sale here, where it comes from and how it’s labelled. Crucially, we also need to know which retailers are the best supporters of our producers.”