Scottish red meat abattoirs take £36 million turnover hit
Licensed Scottish red meat abattoirs generated a total turnover of £818.5 million in 2016, £36 million less than the year before, according to Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) newly published Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile.
According to the report, a total of 400,100 prime cattle were slaughtered at Scottish abattoirs last year, marking a small lift of 0.7% compared to the year before, however, numbers were still 13% below 2011 levels and down 22% on 2006.
Slaughter of mature cattle was sharply lifted in 2016 by 15.5% to 71,000 head, marking the highest level of this century. The total number of cattle slaughtered at Scottish abattoirs and entering the food chain increased by 2.5% to a three-year high of 471,300.
In the sheep sector, breeding sheep flock numbers saw decline from 3.011 million head in 2015 to 2.91 million, 5% below the 2006-10 average and 1.5% below the 2011-15 average.
On the other hand, although production fell slightly to 24,500t, the pig sector saw a 1.5% expansion in numbers, to 37,800 head, marking the highest December total since 2010. Sow numbers were also slightly above their 2006-2010 average and 19% higher than the 2011-15 average.
The report notes that the rise in the breeding herd may have been in response to the recovery in the slaughter market and an expansion of capacity in the pig processing sector in the country.
Total sales revenues from the primary red meat processing sector are estimated to have fallen by 4% to £818.5 million in 2016, driven by lower beef wholesale prices and the drop in sheepmeat production.
England and Wales continued to prove the largest market for Scottish processors last year, with more than two-thirds of all revenues being generated there.
Export sales suffered a 3.5% decline to £73.9 million, with exports having generated an estimated 9% of total turnover, almost stable compared to the year before, but still taking a smaller share of sales when compared to the UK red meat industry as a whole.
Iain Macdonald, senior economics analyst with QMS, commented: “With average carcase weights slipping back, annual beef production rose at a slower pace, but still reached a five-year high of 172,200 tonnes.”