A new report completed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has shown that Scotland’s red meat supply chain contributes a vital £2.8 billion to the Scottish economy
Between 36% and 38% of Scottish agricultural output over the last five years was from red meat production. Sarah Millar, QMS’s Chief Executive, said: “This report is vital to understanding the red meat supply chain in Scotland’s total – as well as it’s rural economy. Red meat is fundamental to Scotland’s agri-food sector, with an annual economic output of an estimated £2.8bn, up over 16 per cent from £2.4bn in 2016.”
Red meat output accounts for 36% of Scottish farming output, with on-farm output up by more than £100m to £1.27bn since 2016. Meat processing contributes £885m, £361m comes from core supply trading and a further £225m comes from other farm supplies.
The importance of maximising livestock output is highlighted within the report: “There is opportunity to retain more value from the red meat chain if more Scottish livestock were processed in Scotland, but this requires the whole chain to work together to build the opportunities in a number of ways – as we outlined in QMS’s five-year strategy at this year’s Royal Highland Show. It’s vital that we all shout loud and proud about our meat’s provenance, quality, and the heritage of our Scotch red meat to develop an increase in domestic supply contracts as well as export opportunities, hand in hand with ensuring that there is sufficient abattoir capacity to process the increased throughput.”
The report also shares data about employment in the sector, with 39,000 jobs being sustained through the red meat supply chain. 80% (31,200) of those roles are on farm, 3,880 in meat processing, 2,000 in the core supplies industry and 2,200 employed in other supplies to the sector.
Mr Millar said: “Livestock farming is so important to the fabric of our rural economies, supporting both hired and family labour, in full-time and in part-time roles, and in-turn other local businesses in rural and remote places.
“What’s also important to note is that, when you add in the further processing of red meat into cooked foods and food service, for example, the total employment contribution of the red meat sector is even greater.”
Also highlighted within the report is the importance of the industry to rural areas. Ms Millar said: “The farms and crofts that produce store lambs and cattle underpin economic activity in much of Scotland, and importantly, the hills and islands of the north and west. Without crofting and hill farms, there would be increased depopulation and the hollowing out of remote communities.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “This report highlights the continued importance of the red meat supply chain both to Scotland’s economy as well as our rural communities. Improvements in on-farm efficiency as well as work to further build the brand and reputation of our nation’s iconic meats have led to a marked increase in value of the sector. This is down to the diligence and hard work of farmers, crofters and all those who work in the wider supply chain.”
The full report can be accessed here.