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Associate feature: Not all meat is born equal

Cows grazing in a farm near Peeblesshire Photo: David Cheskin / PA

Associate feature: Not all meat is born equal

Scotch has long held an elevated place in minds across the world, associated with superior quality, but what really is the Scotch meat difference?

As red meat production comes under increasing scrutiny, there’s a greater need than ever - for producers to parliamentarians - to be able to confidently advocate Scotch meat with pride and a deeper understanding of what it means economically, socially, environmentally and nutritionally.

QMS’ consumer campaign last year lauded meat ‘with integrity’, which holds meaning on many levels. By buying Scotch, shoppers are not only eating quality meat with full transparency at any stage of the supply chain, but they are helping to preserve Scotland’s iconic landscape, sustaining a vital Scottish industry which supports around 50,000 jobs and upholding generations of experience and embedded culture.

Although increasingly maligned for their gaseous habits and contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, cattle, as well as sheep, are vital contributors to Scotland’s world-renowned landscape.

Not only would it be hard to imagine Scotland’s countryside without cows and sheep, their grazing habits are an essential part of the natural cycle.

Our landscape and climate are ideal for rearing livestock. Over 80 per cent of Scottish land is grassland – including swathes of rough grazing not suitable for growing crops – these extensive areas utilise an abundant supply of rain to create lush plant-based animal feed that needs no artificial irrigation.

Grass grazed by livestock rebalances their carbon emissions by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and capturing it in the soil which is much needed for the regeneration of good healthy soil and vegetation.

Methane lasts a short while in the atmosphere compared to, for example, CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, having a lesser impact on the atmosphere than sometimes perceived. Scotland’s scientists are currently working hard to build a greater understanding of the genes in cattle that produce less methane. This is increasingly guiding breed choices for beef producers which will continue to minimise environmental impact.

Beef and lamb production sustains thousands of livelihoods, both on farming land, but also throughout the supply chain, and this, in turn, oils the wheels of an all-important rural economy.

Since 1996 the Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb brands have held the coveted European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, which will be retained even as we leave the European Union along with the associated kudos on the world markets.

All red meat holding the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork logos - gives assurance - as well as reassurance - to consumers at home and abroad that the meat they are choosing to eat has been produced with care for the animal, the land and the environment - in Scotland from start to finish.

Internationally recognised, it guarantees uncompromisingly high standards from farmers, feed suppliers and hauliers to auctioneers and processors, in addition to the quality and taste of the final product.

We also shouldn’t lose sight of the nutritional value of red meat, which, when part of a balanced diet, provides essential vitamins and minerals, promoting cognitive and physical development particularly in children. Nutrition expert, Professor Alice Stanton of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, has collated some interesting data on this which is well worth a read.

With consumers increasingly aware of where their food comes from, the Scotch difference, branded with a Scotch or Specially Selected stamp of approval, gives shoppers confidence that, from field to fork, the meat in their baskets has been produced with integrity.

QMS is embarking on a new public affairs strategy to work directly with parliamentarians and their staff to highlight the work QMS conducts on behalf of Scotland’s red meat sector. Please contact External Affairs Director Sarah Millar for more information: smillar@qmscotland.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Quality Meat Scotland

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