By Sarah Millar, CEO Quality Meat Scotland
With many people enjoying the best of Scotland’s produce while celebrating Burn’s Night last week, it was a great opportunity to reinforce the provenance and pride we have in the Scottish red meat sector.
People sometimes question how much QMS does in terms of telling our story to key stakeholders and influencers beyond our border. The answer is – a lot, and last week really demonstrated some of that activity, with visits to London and Paris being great opportunities to reinforce the importance of Scotland’s red meat supply chain.
We were proud to be part of a Taste of Scotland event hosted by the Scotland Office in Westminster. This showcased the best of Scottish produce to key groups; overseas diplomats, trade envoys and ambassadors in the morning, and MPs, cabinet officials, and key UK political stakeholders in the afternoon.
It was a chance for us, as QMS, to discuss key trade issues with current and prospective export markets in the morning, and to tell the story of the provenance and quality of Scotch red meat alongside some other fantastic Scottish businesses.
In the afternoon session, we had the opportunity to discuss the huge importance and value of the Scottish red meat supply chain with UK political stakeholders. Helping UK politicians understand this is vital as we seek their support to maintain cattle, sheep and pig numbers on-farm, to ensure potential policies are workable and to put forward positive and persuasive cases for budgets for agricultural activity.
Telling the story well, with knowledge, belief and conviction, is key. It is certainly to the fore at the other end of the Scotch supply chain, as I saw when we visited one of London’s latest restaurant openings, The Devonshire. It has invested in a butchery and dry ageing room as part of its facilities, and is focussing on Scottish red meat, making it one of its ‘hero’ ingredients. It is a great example of making Scotch part of its brand story, and a key selling point for customers.
With London still home to the iconic Smithfield Market, QMS brand development manager Gordon Newlands started the next day at 3am talking to its traders – many of whom champion Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork. Again, this gave him an opportunity to discuss the benefits and positive differences our country’s red meat brands offer, plus our strategy and plans to support these businesses who put our brands front and centre of what they do.
Selling the quality, benefits and value of the Scottish red meat supply chain, from farm to fork, is a key part of our role, and it’s something I very much enjoy. I started practicing at an early age though, spending my teenage Saturdays manning our family farm’s butchery stall on Castle Terrace at Edinburgh farmer’s market, talking to customers about how our meat was produced. It’s a broader, deeper message today, but one I’m proud to shout about. Our story is one of provenance, sustainability and high quality – and why Scotland is the choice for premium red meat.