Meat businesses must not succumb to uncertainty: QMS

A new report about the future of the Scottish red meat industry has outlined the potential opportunities as well as the tough times ahead following Brexit.

Speaking at the launch of Quality Meat Scotland’s new Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile, Stuart Ashworth, head of Economics Services with QMS said steps to improve the flow of information between different parts of the supply chain will be key to unlocking future opportunities.

A further outcome of a better flow of communication, he said, would be the forging of stronger relationships between those operating in different parts of the red meat chain.

However, it is vital that those working in the industry maintain the confidence needed to seek out the opportunities which lie ahead.

“It will be important that those working in our industry don’t become undermined by the uncertainty which comes with this period of change,” said Ashworth.

“There is no doubt that there will be changes which will be painful for some and there will be an inevitable period of adjustment and restructuring. However, there will also be opportunities and those willing to innovate and focus on technical improvements will seize these opportunities.”

However, Ashworth emphasised that a supportive government, particularly in terms of export development and agricultural and food policies, would be a crucial factor in achieving this and he emphasised, the transition process would be a difficult period.

Separately, Quality Meat Scotland chairman Jim McLaren has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

McLaren, 49, who farms in Perthshire, has been chairman of QMS since 2011, after serving as President of NFU Scotland from 2007 to 2011.

McLaren, who is married to Shona and has two sons, two daughters and two step-daughters, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by SRUC in November 2015 for his “outstanding contributions to Scottish agriculture and the rural economy.” He is also a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies (FRAgS).

Along with working in his various industry roles and running his farming business, McLaren also makes time to support the work of charities such as the Royal Highland Education Trust and regularly welcomes local school children to his farm, Dargill near Crieff, to gain a better understanding of where their food comes from.

In recent years McLaren led on a project to create a memorial to pay tribute to the work of the Land Girls who helped feed the nation by working on farms during the Second World War.

The memorial in Moray was created by renowned sculptor Peter Naylor following a three-year fundraising campaign and unveiled by the Duke of Rothesay.

McLaren said he was surprised and delighted to have received the award.

“It has been a huge privilege for me to have worked in, and for, the Scottish agricultural industry in the various roles I have undertaken to date. I am immensely proud of our industry and particularly of the people, the length and breadth of our country, who dedicate their lives to producing safe, nutritious food in a way which enriches Scotland’s environment.

“It is the passion, dedication and innovation of those who work in our industry which has resulted in Scotland’s larder – and  brands such as Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork – earning a global reputation for quality.”

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