Much more needs to be spent on the promotion of Scotch lamb to boost home consumption and exports, according to Fife farmer George Milne, development officer with the National Sheep Association in Scotland.
The industry should be spending at least 2 per cent of its annual turnover of £277 million on marketing and promotion which would give it an annual budget of £5.5m, Milne told the annual meeting in Dunblane of the association’s Scottish region.
“Quality Meat Scotland spends only around £300,000 a year promoting Scotch lamb and this is totally inadequate,” said Milne. “We welcome the extra £250,000 the Scottish Government has pledged following the recent collapse in the hogg market plus the additional £750,000 of support for the Scotch beef and lamb brands and specially selected Scottish pork.
“But this is still not enough to have the impact required. A spend of 2 per cent on turnover and a budget of £5.5m would carry more impact but 3 per cent would give us a budget of £8.3m and would have an even greater impact.”
Milne said the investment was required to overcome the stigma which seemed to be attached to lamb in Scotland by some consumers and the low per capita consumption of only 2.2kg, less than half the UK average of 4.5kg. There was also a tremendous opportunity to increase exports.
“We need to take action to reverse the downward trend in the national sheep flock and get quality Scotch lamb recognised by the public in the same way as Scotch beef,” said Milne.
“For every new job we can create on sheep farms, it means another new job further along the supply chain.”
Milne also renewed industry calls for the repatriation to Quality Meat Scotland of the promotional levies which are collected for Scottish sheep, cattle and pigs slaughtered in England. These levies are retained and spent on the promotion of English lamb, beef and pork.
The Scottish lamb crop is expected to be down this year as a result of last year’s bad weather in most parts of the country which has left many ewes barren. But Milne expects demand for fresh meat to be stronger in the light of the recent horsemeat scandal.
QMS head of marketing, Laurent Vernet, said the increased budget for promotion would be spent in the coming weeks to promote home consumption. .