19th December 2023

2023 lays a solid foundation

by Kate Rowell, Chair of QMS 

This has been an incredibly busy year, both for me and all those at Quality Meat Scotland. We’ve reached so many milestones and that is testament to the unrelenting creativity and ambition of the team and those we represent.

Admittedly the year has not been without its challenges. At home, we’re feeling the same myriad pressures that all tenanted farmers are facing. Rising costs, together with the constraints of tenancy agreements, makes the idea of reaching net zero with our suckler cows and sheep like trying to juggle with an arm tied behind our backs.

I find inspiration through The Monitor Farm Network. The Management Groups, alongside the experts and, of course, the Monitor Farmers and families continue to amaze me with their ingenuity, open-mindedness and commitment. Following their progress and seeing others motivated by the programme to make changes to their own farms has been a highlight of my year.

Another, has been the ‘Building Better Beef’ report. Collectively published by QMS, AHDB and HCC and launched at AgriScot in November, it is a comprehensive yet accessible piece of work designed to unlock greater productivity, profitability and sustainability in the suckler beef sector.

QMS support goes well beyond the farm gate and this year we’ve been behind an array of targeted campaigns to capture the imagination of consumers.

Initiatives like our Meat Voucher Scheme, Tasty Little Weeks and The Better Burger Challenge are all aimed at inspiring the next generation.

Lamb For St Andrew’s Day goes from strength to strength and 2023’s activities saw QMS take the messages of this popular United Auctions and IAAS initiative far and wide. Scotch Lamb was made available to all members and staff in the Scottish Parliament on 30 November and our Chief Executive Sarah Millar, alongside members of UA and IAAS, were on hand to discuss with decision makers the importance of Scotch Lamb to the wider Scottish economy.

Scotch Lamb featured at a dinner at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Paris and in a special COP 28 dinner organised by Scottish Development International (SDI) in Dubai.

The event marked a significant moment for Scotland’s sheep producers. The supplier, The Woodhead Brothers in Aberdeenshire, is the first processor in Scotland to receive accreditation to supply lamb in the Middle East - a region that imports on average of £571m worth of sheep meat each year.

Undoubtedly, one of my personal highlights of the year was the first ever Christmas TV advertising campaign that placed our products in the seasonal spotlight. This superhero-themed campaign targeted nearly 90% of the adult population in Scotland, and aimed to boost sales and emphasise the real superhero status of Scottish meat. The campaign, ‘Make Christmas InCREDible, Make it Scotch,’ was backed up by a suite of recipe ideas and social media posts.

While 2023 has been an amazing year for QMS, in many ways it has just been setting the stage for 2024 and beyond.

At the Royal Highland Show, we launched an ambitious five-year strategy which outlined the key pillars of Provenance; Productivity and Profitability; and Planet and Place and our vision to make Scotland the choice for premium red meat.

In recent weeks, the focus has been on giving members the chance to hear how we plan to deliver this five-year strategy. We’ve hosted over a dozen workshops, from Orkney to Lauder, bringing together members to see how the first levy increase in more than a decade will help QMS to continue to support and further develop Scotland’s red meat supply. With costs increasing, a protected budget is needed to realise the ambitions set out in our strategy.

So as 2023 comes to an end, I want to thank you for being a part of our journey so far. Here’s to 2024, when we make Scotland the premier choice for red meat.


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