Exported Beef Tramples on Scot Supplies

UK - The National Farmers Union of Scotland have voiced concerns that Scotland is exporting so much beef to the likes of Ireland and Italy that it may not have enough supply left for its own shores.
calendar icon 8 May 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

The Union has heard a number of reports of the continued buying of quality Scottish store cattle and suckled calves for shipment to Italy and Ireland.

The NFUS claim that this is good news in the short term for producers who are able to receive a good price, but say it should ring alarm bells with retailers as future supply within Scotland is being put in jeopardy and the critical mass of Scotland’s beef sector is threatened.

"This is a potential time bomb for the Scotch Beef brand and rings alarm bells about future supply."
Kelvin Pate, NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman

Scottish processors are already finding supply difficult and the situation can only become more acute as hundreds of cattle are moved to the continent every week. Processors could therefore be faced with a situation whereby lack of critical volume threatens their future and that of the industry.

Retailers are being warned that their supplies of Scotch Beef could be threatened unless they start to pay a price which incentivises producers to keep their animals in this country for the domestic market.

Kelvin Pate, NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman, said:

“This is a potential time bomb for the Scotch Beef brand and rings alarm bells about future supply. Animals from the top end of the market are being exported in huge numbers and leaving a hole in Scottish cattle numbers. The exchange rate is such at the moment that it is extremely attractive for buyers to come to Scotland and buy quality animals that are increasingly difficult to source from Europe.

“One of Scotland’s major processors has estimated that between 400 and 500 animals have been leaving the North East of Scotland each week over recent weeks and I myself have had an offer for all my young bulls to go to Holland.

“Retailers must respond by paying a sustainable price if we are to maintain production here in Scotland.

“If they don’t then consumers could be the ones who lose out in the end as retailers won’t be able to provide what their consumers are asking for – Scotch Beef – and we could be seeing inferior foreign imports on our shelves.

“Shoppers are increasingly demanding quality Scottish produce and any loss of that would be immensely damaging to the Scottish food supply chain as well as the overall economy. Food production is one of Scotland’s most important industries and in a world where the issue of food security is becoming more and more significant it must be safeguarded.”

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