Scotch lamb celebrated globally on St Andrew’s Day

Scotch lamb celebrated globally on St Andrew’s Day

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) supported a COP28 Scotch lamb dinner as the National Sheep Association (NSA) celebrated the lamb product for a St Andrew’s Day campaign back in Scotland.

Over 70 sheep farmers attended the meal in Carfraemill, Lauder, celebrating Scotch lamb on St Andrew’s Day.

In a COP28 dinner organised by Scottish Development International (SDI) and supported by QMS, guests were treated to lamb from Woodhead Brothers in Aberdeenshire, which has become the first processor in Scotland to receive accreditation to supply the market in the Middle East.

First Minister Humza Yousaf was among the delegates being served Scotch lamb in Dubai to celebrate St Andrew’s Day.

Lamb for St Andrew’s Day, conceived by auctioneer George Purves, and sheep farmer Willie Mitchell while on the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme, is an initiative to boost lamb sales by making it synonymous with St Andrew’s Day in the same way haggis is for Burn’s Night and turkey for Christmas. According to QMS, since its inception in 2010, it has grown with industry support, driven by trade bodies, to become a popular fixture of Scotland’s national day for restaurants and secondary schools as much as households and St Andrew’s Day events. 

QMS said that lamb is “hugely popular” in the Middle East and, with the sheep meat production levels of the six Gulf Co-operation Countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE) fulfilling only 66% of their consumption levels, QMS estimated that the new market could have significant worth to the Scottish sheep industry. In recent years the Middle East has imported an annual average of £571 million worth of sheep meat.  

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “I am pleased to be involved in this year’s Lamb for St Andrew’ Day campaign. This year, Scotch lamb will be on the plates of decision-makers from Paris to Dubai. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the very best that our sheep producers have to offer.

“The high quality of Scottish lamb give it mass appeal to customers and I know that this year’s campaign will help to enhance this message across the globe.”

Building exports

This is a significant opportunity to build on the export market, said Tom Gibson, director of business development at QMS: “At QMS, we are working continuously to open doors to wider markets for our different products. The Middle East has been untapped until now and it’s really exciting to see this opportunity to sell a substantial volume of lamb to a different part of the world become a reality through Woodhead Brothers.

“Matching up with nations that are not self-sufficient is the perfect partnership and offers the best value to both, and it is the processors who can grasp these international opportunities by meeting the market demand and physically supplying the product. 

“The dinner in Dubai, ahead of the world’s largest conversation about the environment, will be a fantastic platform to remind decision-makers about the taste of Scotch lamb but importantly also Scotland’s story as the most sustainable place to produce it.” 

QMS noted that Woodhead Brothers, part of the Myton Food Group in Turriff, is the second biggest lamb processor in Scotland, and, alongside other Woodhead Bros processing sites, processes approximately 8000 lambs and over 2500 cattle a week.

Scott Bradley, trading manager at Woodhead Brothers, stated that trading with Dubai highlights Scotland’s ability to export premium lamb and will open opportunities in other Gulf states. He said: “As consumer tastes and markets change it’s imperative for us to keep looking for new opportunities, and this is one that has enormous and exciting potential.

“Having sampled our products in early November, buyers in Dubai were delighted with the quality and flavour our range had to offer. As of today, we will mainly be supplying products into high end food service, the leisure and tourist markets, and look forward to growing trade with other nations as awareness and logistics develop.” 

NSA celebrated St Andrew’s Day 5,000 miles away

The National Sheep Association celebrated the initiative by sitting down to a meal of Scotch lamb in Carfraemill, Lauder, with around 70 sheep farmers attending. They celebrated the first Scottish abattoir processing lamb to halal certified standards, as delegates sat down nearly 5,000 miles away to enjoy their own meal.

Peter Myles, NSA Scottish Region chair, said: “If the guests at the St Andrew’s Day meal in Dubai enjoyed their Scotch lamb as much as we all did at Lauder, I have no doubt they’ll be regular customers going forward. Consumers of lamb from Muslim communities are growing in number and spending power, so we must cater for their requirements. The more doors we can open for Scotch lamb, both domestically and internationally, the better for all Scottish sheep farmers.

“NSA Scottish Region, QMS, butchers, auctioneers and many others in the Scottish sheep sector have all worked so hard to promote the Lamb for St Andrew’s Day concept, from high level gala dinners to children getting Scotch lamb for their school dinner, and it is hugely gratifying to see it now making a real difference. We must and will keep up our efforts, and have much to feel proud about.”

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