Thinking back to move forward into 2022
By Kate Rowell, Chair of QMS
When the Peeblesshire bells chimed on New Year’s Eve to mark the entry of 2021, I, like so many of us, had high hopes for what the year would hold. And while it hasn’t been easy, nor the return to normal that we had all wished for, I plan to focus on the positives as we look toward 2022.
There is value in reflecting on the past, if for no other reason than to see how far we’ve come. It’s been a busy year with the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) team continuing to work diligently to promote, protect, support and develop Scotland’s red meat industry.
We launched two fully interactive education games for schools, Farming Foodsteps and Mission Sustain Health, to tell farming’s sustainability story and bust some myths.
This year, the cross-industry Lamb for St Andrew’s Day campaign, which encourages consumers to eat lamb on Scotland’s patron saint’s day in the same way we eat turkey for Christmas, saw over three tons of lamb delivered into schools, for Home Economics classes and canteens, all donated by the industry and supported with QMS teaching materials and recipes.
Our summer ‘Make It with Field Cred’ marketing campaign to promote Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI reached more than 3.1m adults in Scotland. We were pleased to see that a YouGov survey showed over half of consumers (54%) associate the Scotch Brands as ones that care about the environment and sustainability (Source: QMS You Gov Tracking Data, August 2021).
We’re developing, in partnership with other industry stakeholders, the 2030 Beef Sector Strategy and the Scotch Butchers Club was rebranded and relaunched, offering material and digital assets for consumer promotion, as well as competitions to encourage upskilling in the trade.
With other key members of the red meat sector, this Autumn we published Our Steak in Ground, a position paper on climate change from the sector to support the supply chain to make small, constant changes through innovation, breeding, feeding and technology to decarbonise the sector and to close the gap to net zero.
EU Exit and Covid 19 have tested the resilience of the Scottish red meat supply chain, and staffing issues are having a real impact particularly within processors and butchers. We recently launched the Butchery Careers hub, a tool to encourage more school leavers and career changers to seriously consider a career in butchery.
It has been a very difficult year for pig producers in many ways. QMS has been working closely with Scottish Government, UK Government and industry since the beginning of the challenges in February 2021 and will continue to do so. A key priority was to find a solution for pigs to move south of the border to be processed under a derogation and still meet the SSP Quality Assurance requirements to reduce the financial impact and backlog on Scottish Farms. A second derogation, that is still operational today, allowed pigs over 100kgs into the SSP Quality Assurance requirements.
Looking ahead, QMS will continue to develop our eating quality and DNA traceability work to maximise the performance of Scotland’s beef herd; and we’ll be focusing on activity to support the whole sector to meet net zero targets. The Health and Education team will be expanding its work to reach even more school children to teach the next generation about the benefits of a healthy balanced diet and sustainable farming.
As future farming policy evolves, a key focus will also be on building value in our Quality Assurance to ensure that we remain a premium competitor on both the world and domestic stage. This will be essential when scrutinising future trade deals and, with my appointment to the Trade and Agricultural Commission, it’s never been more important for Scotland to have representation during that scrutiny process.
2022 will also see the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) appointed as the new Certification Body to carry out assessment and certification services of all the QMS whole of life, whole of production supply chain Assurance Scheme. I look forward to working closely with SAOS to ensure a smooth transition so our assurance schemes continue to give consumers the legal guarantee that the meat they buy has come from animals that have spent their whole lives being raised to some of the world’s strictest welfare standards.
One positive, in particular, that farmers can take in 2022 is that red meat is still ‘in’ but we need to continue to engage with eco-conscious consumers who are becoming known as Climatarians! For meat to be firmly on the menu and in the shopping baskets of people across the country, farmers have an important part to play in building greater understanding around the role livestock farming in Scotland plays in the environment and why Scotch is one of the most sustainable red meat choices.
We can always do more to support, develop, promote and protect the Scottish red meat sector and 2022 will see the whole team at QMS strive to address as many of the concerns of levy payers as possible, and continue the work to champion our important farming communities. We will commit to listen to, learn from and respond to all your feedback.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated QMS staff, all our industry stakeholders and farmers across the country for continuing to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious, delicious and sustainable Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.