Scottish red meat industry seeks Brexit clarity

Scottish red meat industry seeks Brexit clarity

Stuart Ashworth, head of economics services at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), has expressed the need for Brexit clarity speaking at the launch of QMS’s new Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile.

Ashworth has said that two years on from the referendum there is now an urgent need for clarity to allow businesses to plan for the future.

QMS’s Stuart Ashworth.

He continued: “Without question there is concern that businesses are treading water during this period of uncertainty when we still have little clarity about the implications of Brexit.

“Two years on and we are little clearer on what Brexit may mean for our industry. We have no vision of what agricultural policy may look like and producers are still assimilating the changes introduced in the wake of the last CAP reform.”

However he explained that the industry has a great track record of resilience and adapting to change, and there are welcome indications that businesses- including several processors- are investing and adapting.

Offering insight into calf registrations, he added: “Calf registrations in Scotland in 2017 slipped for a second year, although they remained higher than in 2013 and 2014.

“Calvings in the first quarter of 2018 were unchanged on year-earlier levels but with carcass weight falling in response to market signals we have seen a decline in the volume of beef Scottish abattoirs handled.”

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 Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile Iain Macdonald, senior economics analyst with QMS, added that overall the total volume of meat produced in Scottish abattoirs during 2017 was down 3.9% compared with 2016, at around 212,100 tonnes.

In total, 24 licensed red meat abattoirs operated in Scotland during 2017 generating a total turnover of £892 million. This was up £32 million year-on-year, by around 4%.

In summary, 2017 was said to be a largely positive one for the Scottish red meat industry with weather less extreme and farmgate prices generally above 2016 levels.

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