A major recruitment drive is being launched this month to increase the membership of Quality Meat Scotland’s quality assurance schemes.
The campaign is being launched along with a range of activities to mark the 25th anniversary of the quality assurance schemes which underpin the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands.
Scotland’s quality assurance schemes are among the longest-running in the world with the Scots global pioneers of the quality assurance concept first introduced here in 1990. Currently, over 90% of Scotland’s breeding cattle population and 80% of the breeding sheep flock are from farms covered by quality assurance, along with almost 100% of significant pig farming businesses.
Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS, urged livestock farmers and others in the industry to get behind the campaign which highlights the importance of quality assurance to the future of the industry’s brands and the profitability of livestock farming in Scotland.
“It is important that everyone in our industry plays a part in encouraging any weak links in the chain which are not assured to join. Whether they are farmers, hauliers, feed companies, auction markets or processors, it is vital they understand the importance of whole chain quality assurance to the future of their businesses and our industry,” said Mr McLaren.
He added: “One of the key parts of this recruitment drive is to attract any Scottish beef cattle breeding farms that remain outside farm assurance.”
The Scottish red meat industry is, he said, very proud of the fact that Scotland was a global pioneer of livestock quality assurance. Over the past quarter of a century a great deal has been achieved, Mr McLaren observed, but he emphasised that it is vital that the industry is not complacent and remains on the front foot.
“These days few would question the value to Scottish livestock farmers of having strong brands supported by robust quality assurance schemes. Indeed, the crucial importance of what quality assurance delivers for the industry was crystal clear when the horsemeat scandal broke two years ago,” he said.
Quality Assurance scheme membership is open to farms of all sizes – from large finishing units to much smaller businesses with a few cattle, sheep or pigs. The fee charged varies with the size of the unit and discounts are available for crofting groups and those who combine assessments with those for other schemes.
QMS’s marketing campaigns aimed at building consumer loyalty to the brands have worked hard in recent years to communicate what the Scotch brand stands for with campaigns like “Behind the Label”. Mr McLaren also highlighted the increasing importance of quality assurance to consumers.
“Recent independent market research undertaken for QMS reveals that shoppers expect the brands, coupled with their quality assurance, to guarantee they can trust the meat they buy,” he said.
Seventy-six percent of Scots agree that Scotch Beef is a brand they can trust and 89 percent of consumers understand that the Scotch Beef label means the beef is from Scotland.
Additionally, 67 percent of Scots understand that the Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb labels mean independent checks are undertaken to make sure the meat has been produced in the right way.
Farmers who would like more information on joining the QMS Quality Assurance schemes should contact SFQC on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 335 6602.