26th March 2010

QMS Increases Spend in Support of Scottish Red Meat Industry

Quality Meat Scotland today (Friday, March 26th) unveiled plans to strengthen and expand the programme of activities it undertakes on behalf of Scottish red meat industry during the financial year ahead (2010/11).

Next week (April 1) sees the introduction of new levy rates, following discussion and engagement with the industry last year, including a series of open meetings throughout Scotland.

The new rates will result in levy income increasing from £3.9m in 2009/10 to an estimated £4.6m for 2010/11. Coupled with the £1.2m grant income QMS has succeeded in leveraging for the year ahead, this will finance an overall spend of £7.3m to deliver a programme of activity, including assurance schemes, for the industry.

“While we are pleased to have secured this strong grant support for the industry much of this income is of a short-term nature and the revenue we will generate from the new levy rates remains crucial to the success of our activity going forward,” said QMS Chairman, Donald Biggar.

“Of that total, spend marketing and promotion expenditure will return to around £2.7m which, coupled with a spend of £1.9m on activities to improve industry efficiency, is great news for the industry.

“We have an ambitious programme of activity planned for the year ahead in line with QMS’ overall objective of shaping a sustainable and prosperous Scottish red meat industry,” Mr Biggar added.

During a press briefing at QMS’s Ingliston office, Chief Executive, ‘Uel Morton, also emphasised that operational efficiency remains at the heart of the way the organisation is run.

“Our evolution to a public body two years ago means levy payers can be assured of very high standards of governance and accountability,” said Mr Morton.

“Over the past three years we have made some significant savings in our operating costs. One example of this is levy collection – bringing this in-house has made an annual saving of £30,000 – and we continue to constantly seek ways to improve our efficiency without compromising the important work we deliver for the industry.”

The increased funding will allow the organisation to strengthen its marketing campaigns for the key brands – Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.

“Our strategy for the year ahead for Scotch Beef is to develop our presence and share of markets in key target areas in England as well as maintaining our position as the favourite meat of Scots. The increased levy funding will allow us to intensify our presence in these markets, better target our consumers and increase awareness of the brand,” said Laurent Vernet, QMS Head of Marketing.

The next campaign for Scotch Lamb is set to focus on the Scottish market.  The plan is to target younger consumers interested in "food with taste" without alienating loyal consumers who tend to be slightly older.

“For the Specially Selected Pork brand the additional funding will allow us to strengthen our market position based on higher production standards, particularly our collaboration with the Scottish SPCA,” added Mr Vernet.

“We will also support promotion of processed meat at the point of sale and intensify our work with local authorities to help them monitor the origin of their red meat products.”QMS is involved in more than 70 research and development projects aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of the Scottish red meat industry.

“Priorities for the year ahead include the commencement of a three year project to develop an integrated measurement of meat eating quality. Additionally, a whole chain efficiency programme, focusing on reducing energy, waste, packaging and water use throughout the supply chain, will assist the livestock sector to minimise its greenhouse gas emissions,” said Andy McGowan, QMS Head of Industry Development.

Also new for the year ahead will be a series of 22 discussion groups throughout Scotland to provide opportunities to discuss farm business improvements in an alternative format from the successful Monitor Farm programme run by QMS.

Additionally QMS’s programme of animal health research will prioritise practical tests and control measures for Liver Fluke, Johne’s and BVD while continuing to deliver the pig health improvement programme.

QMS, in common with other industry bodies, continues to express concern at the reduction in livestock numbers and is committed to supporting measures to help reverse the decline.

Despite the challenges, said Mr Biggar, the long-term prospects for Scotland’s red meat sector remain positive and QMS is committed to being at the frontline of forging opportunities from which the industry can benefit.

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