Despite the current significant challenges facing livestock farmers - including cash-flow and volatile prices - the future looks bright provided the pride and passion of those who work in the industry continues to be harnessed with innovation and positivity, according to Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
Speaking at the launch of Quality Meat Scotland’s Annual Review 2014/15, Mr McLaren said there were very encouraging signs that livestock farmers were focusing on the long term and rising to the hefty challenges posed by CAP reform, along with many other factors outwith their control.
There was, he said, evidence of a real thirst for innovative ideas from farmers keen to rise to the challenge of the factors limiting the potential of their businesses and tackle those factors they can control.
“During the past year more than 3000 farmers – keen to look at ways of further reducing their costs and improving their returns - have attended meetings supported by our Industry Development team,” Mr McLaren said.
“Marketing is very important in terms of its potential to stimulate consumer demand but our work to help farmers look at ways of improving returns is also crucial to meet both our statutory remit and overall strategy to shape a sustainable and prospering Scottish red meat industry,” he added,
The vast majority of QMS levy income, over 70%, is spent on consumer-facing activities including marketing and promotion behind the brands
Among some of the highlights of the past year were: an 11% increase in lamb sales stimulated by the 2014 “Wham Bam” Scotch Lamb PGI marketing campaign; 8.3 million consumers reached by QMS marketing campaigns; evidence of the growing importance of on-line platforms for marketing activity – on-line ads generated 19.8 million impressions; around 165 demonstrations were given to school children through QMS health and education work.
The priority QMS gives to listening to the industry was also highlighted by Mr McLaren.
“We have seen a welcome surge in membership of our quality assurance scheme following a recruitment campaign we launched in response to industry feedback. During the past year we have seen an increase in membership of our cattle and sheep scheme by around 350 new members,” he said.
“Scotland was a global pioneer in quality assurance and it is very encouraging to see those working in our industry, along with chefs and butchers, really appreciating the value it delivers in terms of consumer confidence,” added Mr McLaren.
Turning to the detail of QMS’s financial accounts, Uel Morton, QMS Chief Executive, emphasised that achieving value for money for the industry is a key component of every activity the organisation undertakes.
“The QMS team also works very hard to secure additional financial resources for the Scottish red meat industry. During the past year QMS secured £1.25 million in grants used to deliver qualifying activities,” said Mr Morton.
During the year to 31st March 2015 the total income was £6.8 million (compared with £7.25 million in 2014). Income from the statutory red meat levy for the year was £4.1 million, unchanged from the previous year.
“It’s worth noting that when you add the additional income we secure from grants, for every £1 of levy collected, £1.10 is spent delivering activities on behalf of the Scottish red meat industry. Of this £1.10 total, 75 pence is spent on consumer-facing activity and 28 pence on industry-facing activity,” he said.
Click here to view the Annual Review.