18th October 2010

Exporters Ready to Seize Opportunities Despite Tough Economic Conditions

Despite tough economic conditions Scottish red meat exporters appear confident there are opportunities for growth on the export scene.

Around a dozen Scottish meat companies are this week meeting existing and potential buyers in Paris at SIAL, one of the world’s largest food fairs, to ensure they are aware of the quality and provenance which underpins Scotch Beef and Lamb with its acclaimed PGI status.

Speaking at SIAL today (Monday, 18 October) Donald Biggar Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland said: “Export markets remain very important to the Scottish red meat sector, particularly for lamb, and our exporters are confident there is growth to be had in overseas markets.

“There’s no doubt that the global economic slump is making trading conditions challenging but the good news is that despite relatively tight supplies Scotch beef and lamb exporters are holding their own and maintaining a strong market presence.

“Scotch Beef and Lamb now have a presence in nearly every major outlet in our key markets of France, Benelux and Italy which is great news. However, it is vital that we do not miss any opportunities to maintain and enhance this hard-won strong profile.”

Mr Biggar said there was no doubt the prevailing economic climate across Europe means securing profitable new business is challenging.

“Despite this, export deliveries of lamb from Scotland this year have been encouraging. While UK exports of lamb were down by five per cent for the first six months of the year, we would expect a modest increase over the year as a whole for Scotland,” said Mr Biggar.

Beef exports from Scotland are also holding their own, with Customs and Excise data showing UK beef exports year-on-year grew by 19% from January to July 2010.

Exchange rate is also a hugely influential factor, observed Mr Biggar, with concerns about currency fluctuations playing on the confidence of some overseas buyers.

And, during a time of economic downturn, Mr Biggar pointed out there was an increased challenge from lower cost meat from eastern Europe proving more attractive to buyers in Scotland’s key overseas markets.

“The Cabinet Secretary has set the Scottish food and drink sector a challenging target to grow our sales to £12.5b by 2017. The presence of so many of Scotland’s flagship meat companies at today’s event shows our collective determination to play a full part in meeting that goal,” said Mr Biggar.

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