Boost for Scotch exports

The Scottish government is to fund a new drive to promote Scotch beef in key European markets.

Speaking in Paris yesterday, Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead announced that QMS has been given a grant of £170,000 to relaunch the product in France, Belgium and the Netherlands - markets which have all suffered since last years ban on exports in the wake of the FMD outbreak.

The money is one of several grants given to the food industry under the National Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation scheme, totally £4m, which is part of the Scotland Rural Development programme. Other grants include one of £130,000 for butcher Simon Howie to develop a new range of healthy eating meals and one of £20,000 to Rannoch Smokery to develop innovative new products.

Speaking from SIAL international food show, Lochhead said that the Scottish food and drink industry is worth around £7.5b and the government must do all it can to "protect this vital industry."

He added: "Today's grants are part of a £75m investment the Scottish government will make in the industry over the next five years as we move towards our target of growing the value of the industry to £10b by 2017.

"At the same time we are taking huge steps forward through the development of Scotland's first ever National Food and Drink policy: This will boost business as well as putting more Scottish food on consumers plates."

QMS chief executive Uel Morton said: "This is excellent news and means we are able to continue our work on the ground in Europe helping Scottish red meat companies rebuild the export trade for Scotch beef in our target countries."

He added that despite a pick up in lamb exports, sales of beef and lamb to the continent remain down following the FMD outbreak, making it more impotant then ever to have dedicated agents in Europe providing a direct link between Scottish companies and the export market.