The importance of red meat production to both the national economy of Scotland and the country’s rural areas, is very clearly highlighted in an independent new report commissioned by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
The report, “An Assessment of the Economic Contribution of Scotland’s Red Meat Supply Chain”, reveals that the red meat supply chain in Scotland contributes around £2.4 billion to total output.
This equates to a £733 million contribution to Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product and provides employment totalling 33,000 jobs. The report also clearly lays out the Scottish red meat industry’s very considerable importance in terms of employment in rural areas through jobs created by farming and meat processing.
The report accounts for production as far along the red meat chain as abattoirs and cutting plants. The figures would be significantly higher if the economic impact further downstream, including the wholesalers and multiple and independent retailers plus food outlets were also included.
The publication, compiled by Dr Andrew Moxey of Pareto Consulting, reveals that red meat production accounts for around 40% of total farming output in Scotland. Overall cattle, sheep and pigs are found on around 20,000 holdings in Scotland of which over 14,300 are LFA specialist cattle and sheep holdings, around 2300 are non-LFA cattle and sheep holdings and nearly 300 are specialist pig holdings.
In Scotland there are around 30 livestock markets which have a collective throughput of 2.7 million animals, with a turnover of £525 million in 2014.
The 23 licensed red meat abattoirs in Scotland generated a collective output in 2014 worth an estimated £876 million. Sixty-eight percent of their total production is sold outwith Scotland to the rest of the UK, with a further nine percent sold to overseas export markets.
The important economic role of the other businesses which support the industry is also very clear in the report. Livestock haulage accounts for 108 haulage firms operating 275 vehicles registered for carrying livestock. Additionally, 201 veterinary practices are registered for treating farm animals and there are 113 feed suppliers.
“As well as clearly laying out the way in which red meat production underpins Scotland’s agricultural output, the report also highlights the role it plays in social sustainability and in the maintenance of Scotland’s landscape,” said Iain Macdonald, Senior Economics Analyst, QMS.
The report also clearly identifies there are opportunities to increase the contribution the industry makes to Scotland’s economy.
“The main routes identified for achieving this include the retention of more animals in Scotland and the wider adoption of best practice at farm level,” said Mr Macdonald.
“The other key opportunities identified for driving growth in our industry are greater collaboration and information sharing across the supply chain.”