Prince of Wales supports Scottish island abattoirs

Six of Scotland’s island abattoirs will benefit from a new attempt to improve their economic viability, through a scheme inspired by Prince Charles.

The scheme, which will also attempt to improve the business viability of the sites, has received funding and support from HRH The Prince of Wales’ Countryside Fund, as well as the Scottish Government. Funding aims to secure the future of facilities in Shetland, Orkney, Islay, Mull, Lewis and North Uist.

Entitled ‘Sustaining Island Abattoirs in Scotland’, the scheme highlights how important small abattoirs are to the fragile rural communities of Scotland’s small islands.

“They enable local agriculture businesses to capture local economic benefits and help sustain the outstanding island environment, as well as providing local food provenance for the tourism industry,” a spokesperson from the scheme said. “However, increasing costs and regulation have threatened the existence of abattoirs in areas that are often economically vulnerable.”

Prince Charles has also long been convinced of their importance and said: “I have always passionately believed in the importance of sustaining our rural communities and these facilities are vital for the local agricultural businesses and economy.

“It allows farmers and crofters to add value to their produce, tourism providers to promote local provenance and local people to have local food. It is my strong belief that, with the generous assistance of the Scottish Government, these businesses can not only have a sustainable future, but can at last help capture the increased consumer demand for traceable, authentic and quality UK meat.”

Meanwhile Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said Scotland’s small island abattoirs were a vital part of island economies and provided a local service for farmers and butchers at a lower cost than mainland abattoirs.

“Crucially, the ability to add value within these island communities must be more sensible than transporting animals to the mainland and all of the value being captured there,” he added.

It is also estimated that the financial support will allow an estimated 20% of all farm businesses on the islands to benefit from the project. Fifteen young people will be offered improved skills and job opportunities and there will also be positive impacts on the environment and animal welfare.

The project will address and provide:
• Funds for improvements
• Specialist business mentoring support
• Development of the market opportunities
• Support for staff training and apprenticeships
• Marketing initiatives to drive sustainable throughput.