The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) accounts for almost 100% of Scotland’s red meat industry, working for, and speaking on behalf of member businesses which play a major role in the national economy.
Generating a combined annual turnover in excess of £870 million and employing more than 2700 people, SAMW member companies are at the heart of Scotland’s world-renowned red meat excellence. In short, the industry has an impressive track record of product and performance, earning global respect for our output where it matters most – taste on the plate.
Despite such justified trumpet blowing on behalf of our members’ achievements, however, the truth is we could be producing more, selling more and contributing more to the Scottish economy. For far too long we’ve been battling against a steady decline in livestock supplies, a downward trend which was largely created by the reduction of coupled support for producers during the 2003 CAP Reform process.
Having lived with the 2013/2014 updating of that same CAP package, and won some worthwhile improvements on coupled support for cattle and sheep production Scotland, we’re now hoping supplies will start to increase again.
The livestock and meat industry, of course, is just about the opposite of an overnight business. You can’t rush breeding and rearing requirements, a fact which means we can only watch and wait for signs of improvement.
At least, decisions and announcements of the past few months have created a more promising platform for the essential rebuilding of Scotland’s livestock and meat industry than we had before. Whether or not the new coupled support levels which have been created will add up to the ‘game changer’ we’d been looking for, only time will tell.
In addition to increased coupled support for producers, the Scottish Government has also made £45 million available to Scotland’s beef industry, a sum which will be spread over the next three years. While, once again, the real value of this injection of funding will only be revealed in time, this is another positive step in the right direction.
We’re also waiting for the publication of the industry’s ‘Beef 2020’ findings. This is a specialist industry ‘think tank’ which was set up at the end of last year to ‘drive growth’ in the Scottish beef sector. SAMW has been an active contributor to 2020, helping to address the issues of production, processing and development efficiency.
Clearly, with all that has been going on this year, there are genuine signs of renewed life in the Scottish beef and lamb sector, albeit with plenty of work still to be done by all involved.
It’s very much in that context, therefore, that I wish to add how much SAMW appreciates the sponsorship support which we receive from ACE and the close involvement which the ACE team have with us during our annual conference in Glasgow.
As my review of the past few months illustrates, we’re involved in an exciting but all hugely challenging business.
Efficient refrigeration and temperature control during the conditioning and maturation phase is vital to the quality reputation which Scotch beef and lamb has throughout the world. Any companies which create opportunities for efficiency gains within our sector are most welcome, therefore, a comment which I have no hesitation whatsoever in applying to ACE.
Executive Manager, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers