Publication Highlights Importance of Red Meat Industry to Scotland’s Economy

SCOTLAND, UK - The latest edition of the "Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile", produced by Quality Meat Scotland, highlights the importance of the red meat industry to Scotland’s economy.
calendar icon 18 June 2019
clock icon 3 minute read

QMS - Quality Meat Scotland

The publication – which covers information about the whole production chain from producer to consumer – will be available free of charge for levy payers and others working in the industry to collect at the QMS stand at the Royal Highland Show.

The document, which focuses on the 2018 year, also highlights the particular challenges faced by the industry, including a very clear indication of the continued contraction in the national beef herd.

"The beef herd continued to contract in 2018, leading to worries for the processing sector which operates on very tight margins," said Stuart Ashworth, Head of Economics Services, QMS.

"A reduction in beef-sired calf registrations, added to these concerns, signalling a potential reduction in prime beef production in 2020."

Looking at trends in the beef sector, 2018 saw a continued move away from continental sires, towards native breeds. The Limousin breed retained its position as the most popular sire in Scotland in 2018, with 20.6 percent of the calves born in Scotland being sired by a Limousin bull. However, numbers lowered in 2018 to 114,000 head, down by 5.6 percent.

There were also heavy declines for the Charolais and Simmental breeds, which saw registrations fall by 8.4 percent and 5.9 percent respectively.

In contrast, Aberdeen-Angus registrations continued to trend higher in 2018, reflecting the marketplace premium for Aberdeen-Angus-sired cattle. A 2.5 percent increase took place in 2018, taking registrations to 97,900 head and 17.7 percent of the total, up from a 16.8 percent share in 2017.

In the sheep sector, the very challenging spring of 2018 saw a sharp fall in the lamb crop. The legacy of the 2018 spring was a smaller breeding flock in the autumn of 2018, potentially limiting the recovery of the lamb crop in 2019.

Uncertainty about the future post-Brexit continues to hang over the Scottish red meat industry but despite this there is evidence that many of those operating at different parts of the chain are continuing to invest in their businesses.

"Despite the number of unknowns there are welcome signals that the industry is committed to weathering the storm and investing for the future," said Mr Ashworth.

"Our industry is one which requires a long-term stance to be taken and has a track record of resilience and innovation.

"While, three years on from the Brexit vote there are still a huge number of unknowns, we can take encouragement in the commitment to the future being shown by businesses operating throughout the production chain."

Processors have, he said, generally found it difficult to achieve higher wholesale prices and, with farmgate prices in 2017 being particularly strong for cattle and pigs and to a lesser extent sheep, processor margins are under pressure and volume becomes a key driver for profitability.

Looking at the figures revealed in the newly-published Profile, Mr Ashworth said overall the total volume of meat produced by the 23 registered Scottish abattoirs during 2018 was up 3.5 percent, following three years of decline, at around 219,100 tonnes.

The Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile 2019 can also be viewed here.

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