Scottish processors boost output figures

Scotland's red meat processing companies increased the volume and value of meat sold last year by £22m in 2007 to £745m.

These figures are released in the Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile, an annual publication from red meat industry body Quality Meat Scotland

In total Scottish processors sold: 185,000t of beef, 59,000t of pig meat, 31,000t of sheep meat - an annual increase of 1.05% over 2006

Increased carcase weightsshored up production levels in a year in which cattle and sheep slaughterings were down on year earlier levels, according to QMS

Figures for cattle dropped by 13,000 to 534,000 and Scottish abattoirs handled nearly 1.5m lambs, a decrease of 1.1% on the year before. However, pig slaughterings were up 8% to 745,000, a rise of 60,000 head on year earlier levels.

Speaking to a gathering of leading industry figures at the Royal Highland Show, QMS chairman Donald Biggar (pictured) said: "Achieving growth in the volume of meat being processed at a time when the number of cattle and sheep being slaughtered has gone down is testament to the resilience of Scottish red meat businesses. Some of this is due to slightly better returns but it's also down to heavier carcase weights and greater efficiency within the processing sector.

The recent positive move in producer prices, albeit late in the day and on the back of a significant hike in feed, fertiliser and fuel, is giving the industry some cause for optimism.

"Another significant factor fuelling industry confidence is the buoyant market out there for what we produce. Last year beef, lamb and pork consumption in the UK alone was up 4% to 2.4 million tonnes."

He added: "On a number of levels it's imperative that Scotland addresses the threat to the critical mass of our livestock. The sector has an annual turnover of more than £1,450 million, is a significant contributor to the Scottish economy and helps create employment for around 40,000 people."