Scotch beef back on the menu in Canada after 24 years

Cows on a farm in the Scottish Borders. Scotch Beef is now back on the menu in Canada for the first time in 24 years
Cows on a farm in the Scottish Borders. Scotch Beef is now back on the menu in Canada for the first time in 24 years
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It is one of Scotland's most famous exports but disappeared from dinner plates across North America more than two decades ago.

Now Scotch Beef is back on the menu in Canada for the first time since 1996 following a campaign supported by Holyrood ministers and the wider food industry.

Aberdeen Angus is now being served up at the Jacob’s & Co steakhouse in Toronto - making it the first Canadian restaurant to sell Scotch Beef since a ban on UK beef imports was introduced in the mid-1990s.

Speciality grocer Denninger's has also reintroduced Scotch Beef to its fresh meat counters across its five stores in Ontario, supplied by West Lothian-based processor AK Stoddarts.

READ MORE: ‘Shadow of BSE’ to be lifted from Scottish beef
The return of limited exports to North America is another positive step for the Scottish meat sector after it faced ruin following the BSE crisis which gripped the industry across the UK in the early 1990s.

Canada lifted its ban on UK beef exports in November 2015 but before Scotch Beef could be exported it was compulsory to undergo a lengthy process, including inspections and approvals of Scottish production facilities undertaken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

A market entry strategy to support the sale of Scotch Beef in Canada was then undertaken by Scottish Development International and Quality Meat Scotland, with the support of the Scottish Government, engaging producers and suppliers and assisting companies with navigating Canadian import regulations.

An export ban to the EU was lifted in March 2006, allowing farmers to rebuild an industry that 10 years before had been worth £600m annually to the UK, and £130m to Scotland.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I’m delighted that, after 24 years, Scotch Beef is now available in a Canadian restaurant and can be bought in stores alongside some of the finest global produce. Since Canada reopened its market, we have been committed to connecting key buyers and retailers with Scotch Beef farmers.

“This is the result of significant work by many to support Scottish producers and engage potential Canadian buyers, including Quality Meat Scotland and our dedicated food and drink in-market specialist who took businesses out to meet farmers and producers.

“There is a growing appetite for premium produce with a strong sense of Scottish provenance which we should capitalise on. Scotch Beef exports are currently worth £46.4m to our economy and we will work closely with partner agencies and businesses to help this grow.”

The worldwide export of British beef was banned in 1996 due to fears over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).