A reminder of the excellent sustainability credentials behind the production of Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, has come today from Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
Speaking following the publication of a new study on global diets and climate change, published this week by Aberdeen University and Cambridge University, Mr McLaren said the industry in Scotland is positioning itself to be a world leader in sustainable farming.
"It is vital there is clarity and good understanding of the very positive environmental messaage our industry has to tell to avoid confusion in the media and among consumers.
"Our traditional, extensive, grass-based systems are based on free-ranging livestock, grazing at low stocking densities and eating grass and forage from land generally unsuitable for growing alternative food sources. This largely avoids the position in others parts of the world where protein suitable for human consumption is being diverted into livestock production. Grass and rough grazing account for around 80% of Scottish agricultural area and we have an abundant water supply."
Mr McLaren added: "The reality is that livestock production is the only viable means of two thirds of Scotland contributing to food production and the secondary benefits of rough grazing are to enhance and protect the valuable habitats of a range of animal and bird species, and protect and enhance Scotland's carbon-rich soils."
He said the good news is that consumers are taking an increased interest in the provenance of the meat they purchase, along with its sustainability and welfare credentials.
He also highlighted the importance of red meat promotion in terms of social and economic sustainability, with the industry contributing more than £2 billion to Scotland's economy and accounting for 50,000 jobs, many in fragile rural areas.
And it goes without saying that lean red meat plays an important role in a healthy diet and is a major source of protein, B-vitamins and zinc. It is also an important source of iron and the reality is around 48% of teenage girls are deficient in iron."
From a food security standpoint, he said the challenge for our industry, as global demand for quality meat continues to rise, is to produce livestock more efficienctly, using fewer inputs.
"We are constantly striving to raise the bar to improve efficiency and reduce waste from field to plate," said Mr McLaren. "It is vital tha the Scottish industry remains on the front foot in terms of increasing the uptake of proven technical and other solutions to improve production efficiency."
QMS has produced a "Scotch Sustainability" document highlighting the industry's key positive sustainability messages.