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Scottish red meat industry contributes £733m to GDP
Published:  25 November, 2016

The Scottish red meat industry is reported to contribute £733 million (m) to Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product and £2.4 billion to total output. 

Revealed in a new report, “An Assessment of the Economic Contribution of Scotland’s Red Meat Supply Chain”, which was commissioned by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the importance of the industry was highlighted. The report also showed that the industry employs 33,000 people in Scotland.

The report was compiled by Dr Andrew Moxey of Pareto Consulting and reveals that red meat production accounts for around 40% of total farming output in Scotland. Overall cattle, sheep and pigs are found on around 20,000 holdings in Scotland of which over 14,300 are LFA specialist cattle and sheep holdings, while around 2,300 are non-LFA cattle and sheep holdings and nearly 300 are specialist pig holdings.

The data takes into account abattoirs and cutting plants however it does not include wholesalers, independent and multiple retailers and food outlets.

It calculates that there are around 30 livestock markets in Scotland which have a collective throughput of 2.7 million animals, with a turnover of £525 million in 2014. The 23 licensed red meat abattoirs in Scotland generated a collective output in 2014 worth an estimated £876 million. Almost two-thirds (68%) of their total production is sold outside Scotland to the rest of the UK, with a further 9% sold to overseas export markets.

The important economic role of the other businesses which support the industry is also highlighted in the report. Livestock haulage accounts for 108 haulage firms operating 275 vehicles registered for carrying livestock. Additionally, 201 veterinary practices are registered for treating farm animals and there are 113 feed suppliers.

Iain Macdonald, QMS senior economics analyst, said: “As well as clearly laying out the way in which red meat production underpins Scotland’s agricultural output, the report also highlights the role it plays in social sustainability and in the maintenance of Scotland’s landscape.

The report also identifies that there are opportunities to increase the contribution the industry makes to Scotland’s economy. “The main routes identified for achieving this include the retention of more animals in Scotland and the wider adoption of best practice at farm level.” added Macdonald. “The other key opportunities identified for driving growth in our industry are greater collaboration and information sharing across the supply chain.”