24th June 2010

Scottish red meat industry steps up efficiency drive

The Scottish red meat industry is set to benefit from new opportunities to improve efficiency and sustainability as part of a tranche of new projects led by Quality Meat Scotland.

Announcing the £150,000 worth of new efficiency projects during an industry breakfast at the Royal Highland Show, Quality Meat Scotland Chairman, Donald Biggar, said the work will ensure the red meat industry in Scotland remains one of the most efficient and sustainable in the world.

“The projects, one third funded by the Scottish Government, are wide-ranging and cover the entire red meat industry supply chain – from producer to retailer. The common thread through them all is they help maintain our industry’s momentum to drive efficiency throughout the supply chain and in doing so reducing waste and emissions.

“Scottish agriculture, particularly the livestock sector, is regularly – and very often inaccurately - challenged over its record on the environment.  The reality is that Scottish farmers, and those involved in the wider red meat chain, are taking their responsibilities seriously and have a huge role to play in meeting Scotland’s ambitious targets on reducing emissions.

“Quality Meat Scotland, in collaboration with NFU Scotland and SAOS, recently published ‘A Joint Industry Commitment on Climate Change’ giving a further clear signal that the environmental considerations are a top priority for us.”

One of the new £20,000 projects will see twelve Scottish red meat processors take part in an energy and water efficiency project which will involve investigating the electricity, gas and water usage, along with carbon footprints, of a selection of small, medium and large abattoir businesses.

Recommendations to reduce energy and water usage will then be made and the impact of the processors making the changes to their operations reviewed.

A £10,000 project, to be delivered by MLC Commercial Services, is aimed at improving efficiency of both producers and processors. This project will look at what can be done to reduce the volume of cattle which don’t meet specification because they are larger or fatter than necessary when they arrive at abattoirs

Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, on behalf of the Sustainability Working Group of Scotland Food and Drink, will investigate the complex range of factors which led to cattle being retained on farm longer than necessary.

The project will identify the economic and environmental impact of out of specification cattle to farmers, abattoirs and the wider supply chain.  A further aim is to identify the technical, financial and behavioural explanation behind  farmers’ decision to keep cattle too long and recommend practical steps to reduce the economic and environmental costs.

A further £20,000 project will look at producing farm specific guidance on slurry and manure management for Scottish pig producers.  The 2009 Strategic Review of the Scottish Pig Industry identified that research and advice on slurry and manure management is not always easily accessible to pig farmers. However, NVZ regulations, and for larger producers the IPPC regulations, will require that pig farmers annually review their slurry/manure management and have a fertiliser and manure management plan.

Additionally, the value of slurry and manure as fertilisers has increased in line with the increased cost of bought-in fertiliser. In light of consumer concern about the environmental impact of food production, this project should help ensure pig farming is not perceived as damaging to the environment.

Further press information from: Carol McLaren, Head of Communications, Quality Meat Scotland. Tel: 0131 472 4112. Mob: 07739 900653 www.qmscotland.co.uk

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