Scottish red meat sector worth more than £1bn to economy

Scottish red meat sector worth more than £1bn to economy

A new report by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) shows the Scottish red meat sector’s £1 billion plus value to the Scottish economy and the importance of external markets to the sector’s success.

Ian MacDonald, senior economics analyst with QMS.

The Red Meat Industry Profile provides “a snapshot of the shape and scale of Scotland’s red meat sector in the calendar year of 2020.” From producer to consumer, the report aims to detail the industry’s contribution to Scotland’s economy as well as the significance of external markets to the country’s farmers and red meat processors.

Among other results, the report found:

  • farm output from cattle, sheep and pig production totalled £1.29 billion in 2020, up 2% from £1.26 billion in 2019, and accounted for 37% of Scotland’s agricultural output
  • the beef sector alone accounted for 24% of Scotland’s agricultural output
  • primary red meat processing generated £815 million of revenue and paid over £77 million in salaries
  • for lamb, Scottish abattoir production is estimated at 2.2 times local consumption, while on-farm production is estimated at over five times of that consumed by Scots
  • Scotland’s beef herd continued to contract in 2020, but there is some evidence of this decline slowing in the second half of the year.

The value of trade outside Scotland was also detailed in the report. It found that two-thirds of revenue was generated from export markets in the rest of the UK and beyond. The report highlighted the sector’s need for access to skilled labour from the EU, which accounts for 47% of the processors’ workforce.

“Impressive gains despite challenges”

Iain Macdonald, senior economics analyst at QMS and author of the report, said that the industry had made impressive gains despite a particularly challenging year.

He said: “Businesses across the supply chain have coped with ever-changing public health restrictions and the knock-on impact on sales channels, temporary site closures and the subsequent backlog of livestock to process. Meanwhile, the UK’s looming exit from the EU single market demanded that new trade conditions, product labelling and potential demand shifts had to be planned for, all at a time when there was uncertainty as to whether a tariff-free trade deal would be in place in time for the year-end.

“Throughout, the red meat sector has worked through these challenges, not only continuing to operate but also creating market gains. This is vital as Scotland’s land and climate is ideal for sustainable red meat production.”

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