While welcoming the speed at which a plan for the future of the Scottish poultry sector has been produced by the Scottish Government, NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller has expressed his concerns over the future for many producers.
The outline plan – which only stretches to two pages and which is described as a “living document” by the government – lists a number of actions to be taken to drive Scottish poultry production forward. These include identifying market opportunities for Scottish-branded chicken and supporting the newly created Scottish Chicken Growers Association.
In issuing the plan Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs minister, said he was attracted by the premium brands created for Specially Selected Scottish Pork, Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb as a method of promoting Scottish poultry meat.
“Scotland produces first-class poultry to high animal welfare standards and I am doing everything in my power to ensure our poultry industry has a positive future, and that the chicken consumed in Scotland is produced in Scotland,” he said.
“Quality and provenance are of paramount importance for consumers in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, and I am convinced that there is strong demand in Scotland for the fantastic poultry being produced here.”
However, Miller pointed out the practical difficulties in moving swiftly to such a plan: “The present planned production in Scotland looks as if it will be close to half of the consumer demand and therefore there is a significant gap to fill.
“Retailers recognise the quality of chicken produced north of the Border and believe they can grow sales.
“However, they have highlighted gaps in the Scottish industry such as an inability to provide a full range of portions or cuts.
“Creating new cutting facilities could open the door to this wider market and has the potential to secure the future of suppliers throughout Scotland.
“Government support to bring that investment forward may be important in securing jobs in the processing sector and also Scottish high-welfare chicken production units which reach from Dumfries and Galloway in the south to Nairnshire in the north.”