By Alessandro Brunelli
The Scottish Government has splashed out an extra £300k grant to promote the exports of Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb in Europe.
The funding will go to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the public body which aims to improve the efficiency and profitability of the Scottish red meat sector.
The grant is particularly intended to help exports to France and the Benelux Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg) through the recruitment of two new Trade Development Advisers, to which about half (£140,500) of the funding will be dedicated.
Two more export managers will also operate on the German and Nordic markets, with the intent of diversifying European demand for Scottish red meat.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, as he announced the funding at the QMS Marketing Conference in South Queensferry, added:
“The Scotch label is recognised the world over as a high quality, premium brand. This reputation puts us in a great position to maximise our exports – particularly in the key European market, which accounts for 90 per cent of Scotland’s red meat exports.
“The current economic landscape in Europe is certainly a very challenging market to operate in, however it’s very encouraging that despite these difficulties our beef and lamb export sales grew during 2011 to around £100 million.
“But we will not rest on our laurels. That’s why we are providing funding to QMS to support growth in established markets, as well as seeking to increase exports in other EU countries.
“I hope that by taking such positive action through this twin strategy we can continue to ensure that more European consumers are able to enjoy our delicious Scotch Lamb and Scotch Beef in the years to come.”
The announcement comes as a surge in European demands is leading to expectations of increased exports in 2011.
Within the internal market Scotch beef saw an increase of 36 percent to £364 million in 2011, while lamb sales were up 11 percent to £306 million.
Data from the previous year showed a combined turnover from farming and processing of red meat of £1.8 billion, an 8 percent rise on 2009.
Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb are both covered by the EU’s Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status, which guarantees that at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the specified area.