By Tom Gibson, director of Market Development, Quality Meat Scotland
Now when we are all beginning to make up for lost time, enjoy some well-earned freedoms together and start to plan ahead with a little more confidence, it is really encouraging to see the red meat category has continued to perform well in recent months – thanks in no small part to more of us stepping up to support the Scottish food and drink sector.
While shoppers are starting to return to pre-pandemic habits - some online retailers have recently noted a drop in online orders from peak lockdown levels - 2021 sales of red meat are up 7% in the 12 weeks to 3rd July across the UK versus the last period of ‘normality’ in 2019 driven by beef in particular.
Increased sales of mince and premium cuts, such as steak, are reflecting a strong demand for red meat as we have all enjoyed getting back outside, getting together around the BBQ and re-acquainting ourselves with outdoor activities.
The last 18 months have presented so many challenges to the Scottish food and drink sector, but there are some positive behavioural changes and new habits that the events enforced upon us have instilled. We are all becoming more conscious of supply chains, our impact on the environment and where our food comes from. Many of us are planning our meals more carefully to provide us with the vitamins and minerals that contribute towards our own good health and wellbeing. When we buy locally and contribute to the local economy, society and support good farming practices, we are completing the picture.
It is encouraging to see consumers buy into this mindset and do their bit to support local producers and suppliers. Shopping locally can help boost the economy and bolster the livelihoods of Scotland’s grocery retailers, butchers, farmers, and other food producers - and it is a far more sustainable way to shop, ensuring that the food we eat has been naturally grown, reared and produced.
Of course, that sustainability message is crucial and the benefits of supporting local when it comes to buying red meat extend further than helping the economy. We all need to be looking at shopping closer to home, choosing locally-sourced products over cheaper, imported alternatives.
As we enter the third quarter of this year, eyes are turning towards COP26 in Glasgow, and, accordingly, the sustainability of Scotland’s economy. Scotland is one of the most sustainable places in the world to produce beef and lamb. This is a nation where our abundant rainfall – however much we might moan about it – means we have lush grassland that is perfect for grazing without the need for irrigation, and also absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and captures it in the soil.
It’s something we’re all proud of. Our livestock farmers are passionate about looking after our countryside and improving it for future generations. They are vital in sustaining this precious industry which supports around 50,000 jobs and livelihoods across our rural communities.
One of the easiest ways to support our farming industry and the production of local, sustainable red meat is by choosing packets with the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork logos. Here’s to more good times and great meals throughout the rest of the summer and beyond.
 Source: Nielsen data, fresh red meat, Total GB excl, discounters, latest 12 weeks to w/e 3rd July 2021