The healthy, largely farm assured and suckler-bred beef from Scottish farms remains central to the country’s hallmark for quality, it was claimed this week.
Looking ahead to 2016, Alan McNaughton, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) said that the current system of production should be guarded and protected by all sectors of the meat industry.
“Thankfully, product quality from Scotland remains strong, in the main, underpinning the Scotch premium, without which the pressures would have been even more severe in 2015,” he said.
However, he added that the past year had still been tough on prices and “challenging” in relation to new regulations.
“It is clearly crucial that we continue to pay close attention to quality issues and market demands in 2016, factors which came to the surface twice during 2015 by way of a farming/processing debate over livestock specification requirements and discussions surrounding livestock movements.”
On the movement debate – which had seen payments docked by some buyers if a finished animal had moved between holdings more than a certain number of times – McNaughton said that some retailers had higher demands than others.
However, he admitted that some grey areas remained – largely concerning what actually constituted a commercial farmer-to-farmer move, as opposed to a more contained linked-holding transfer.
McNaughton also said that the introduction of Food Standards Scotland (FSS) had seen improvements in some key areas of meat sector management.