He threw down the challenge to Owen Paterson as the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs visited Edinburgh, with QMS chief Uel Morton saying that the UK was the only country that asked its industry to pay for the delivery of what was in effect diplomatic work.
“Export certification work – while admittedly technical in nature – is important, especially at a time when the economy is flat and there is a real need to develop export opportunities,” Morton said.
He added that while progress had been made to develop export markets in Europe, the UK was now lagging other smaller and economically weaker European countries in opening up third country markets.
He also drew the minister’s attention to the need for strong support from Defra for the European Union’s PGI (protected geographical indication) quality mark.
Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb were among the first red meats to receive PGI status and Scotch Beef is the largest red meat label in the UK to bear PGI status. Morton continued: “Scotland has a major role to play – in our view– in developing the premium export market, including countries such as Japan and China, which have a strong appetite for quality brands, and the PGI designation is the EU’s premier food quality mark. We are keen to ensure that trade negotiations by Defra takes this into consideration.”
He also flagged up the importance of export markets to the Scottish red meat industry and highlighted the need to ensure that there was an adequate supply of livestock to capitalise on future opportunities for quality meat overseas.