27th March 2013

Importance of export markets highlighted to Defra minister

A call for the UK government to increase its financial commitment to the work of the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP) was made today during a visit to Scotland by UK Secretary of State for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson.During a meeting in Edinburgh attended by leading food and drink companies, the important work undertaken by UKECP to open up third country markets was highlighted to the Minister by Uel Morton, Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland.Mr Morton said: “We believe the UK is the only country which asks its industry to pay for the delivery of what is in effect diplomatic work. Export certification work while admittedly technical in nature, is important, especially at a time when the economy is flat and there is a real need to develop export opportunities.”

Mr Morton observed that good progress has been made to develop export markets in Europe but he said the UK is lagging behind other smaller and economically weaker European countries in opening up third country markets.

During the round-the-table discussion, chaired by Ray Jones, Chairman of Scotland Food & Drink, Mr Morton also drew attention to the need for strong support from Defra for the EU’s PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) quality mark.

Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb were among the first red meats to receive PGI status and Scotch Beef is the largest red meat label in the UK to bear PGI status.

“Scotland has a major role to play, in our view, in developing the premium export market including countries such as Japan and China which have a strong appetite for quality brands and the PGI designation is the EU’s premier food quality mark. We are keen to ensure that trade negotiations by DEFRA take this into consideration.”

Mr Morton also flagged up the importance of export markets to the Scottish red meat industry and highlighted the crucial need to ensure there is an adequate supply of livestock to capitalise on future opportunities for quality meat overseas.


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