Associate feature: meat producers are rising to the challenge
The unprecedented turbulence caused by COVID-19 has presented many challenges, and some opportunities, for the Scottish red meat sector which contributes more than £2bn to the economy and supports 50,000 jobs.
Disruptions to the public sector, including the closure of schools and colleges, were a challenge for Scotland’s red meat supply chain. Before the current crisis, one in four people in the UK had access to a public sector meal each day, and with multiple food-serving organisations closed, the demand decline resulting from food sector closures has been compounded. Discussion surrounding the disruption to the red meat supply chain has been dominated by the foodservice industry, in which 20 per cent of total beef sales disappeared overnight.
The farming community has risen to the challenge, and we’ve all worked hard to keep the country supplied with our high-quality Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork – brands which are renowned for their quality and taste. Consumers seem to have a new desire to learn about production methods and supply chains and are becoming increasingly confident in cooking from scratch at home with locally sourced ingredients.
Our new “Make It” campaign has responded to this change in direction to give recipe inspiration and cooking hacks to encourage people to branch out and try some new quick and easy meals made using our fantastic Scottish red meat. High street butchers have seen a significant increase in demand, and the QMS team has been working to help them cope with this surge, and to take advantage of the opportunity it has provided.
As people were spending more time at home than ever before, QMS encouraged consumers to use their extra time with family to cook delicious, nutritious meals with virtual cookery lessons with Scottish chefs in a series of recipe videos entitled “Chefs’ Specials”.
In this time of increased engagement in local produce we have an opportunity to build our high quality brands"
Working in partnership with each part of the supply chain to keep it open, has been a key focus for QMS over the last few months. This included introducing remote assessments for our world class Quality Assurance schemes, gaining key worker status for red meat sector supply chain workers, assisting to keep auction marts operating and agree social distancing measures for their safe operation for both auction mart staff and livestock haulers.
Not wanting to lose the valuable two-way dialogue, we’ve taken to our phones since lockdown, speaking to farmers the length and breadth of the country to hear how Covid-19 is affecting them. As well as holding knowledge exchange meetings with farmers across Scotland over platforms like Zoom.
The pace of change in the red meat sector has never been faster, prompting us to launch a series of weekly podcasts. Spanning topics including market trends, brand communications, and industry development projects.
We launched a new video farm diary series to connect country kids with their city counterparts, supporting home schooling during lockdown. The initiative aims to connect children with where their food comes from and those who produce it. With the younger generation increasingly more aware of where their food comes from, this video series will help champion the high animal welfare and environmental credentials we have in Scotland.
Our focus going forward will be to assist businesses to build on increased consumer demand in our home markets, enhance our export opportunities through inward missions and trade shows and strengthen our brands in the eyes of consumers through brand development and targeting marketing.
Brexit also remains a concern, and the team are working hard to keep everyone involved up-to-date with potential changes to import and export regulations, tariff and non-tariff barriers, and the possible complexity of life outside the EU.
In this time of increased engagement in local produce we have an opportunity to build our high quality brands, which guarantees consumers that when they buy Scotch Lamb, Scotch Beef and Specially Selected Pork, it has come from sustainably farmed land and is traceable back to trusted Scottish farms, which adhere to some of the highest welfare standards in the world.
This piece was sponsored by Quality Meat Scotland