QMS Reveals Activites Planned For Year Ahead

UK - Quality Meat Scotland has unveiled an ambitious programme of activity it plans to undertake on behalf of Scottish red meat industry during the year ahead.
calendar icon 18 April 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

In his second week as QMS chairman, Jim McLaren, who took over the reins at the start of this month, said he was looking forward to the opportunities and challenges in the months and years ahead.

“QMS as an organisation is in great shape and even in these very early days of my new role I have been impressed with the ‘sleeves rolled up’ attitude of the small team of QMS staff and the breadth of the workload being undertaken

“The red meat industry continues to underpin the entire agricultural sector in Scotland making the role of QMS in shaping the sustainability and prosperity of the sector central to the delivery of a prosperous future for the whole of Scotland’s rural economy,” said Mr McLaren.

Pointing out that it is very much his aim to ensure QMS continues to be a listening, open door organisation, he said there are without doubt many exciting opportunities ahead for the industry although it also continues to face challenges such as climate change and the anti-meat lobby.

“It is vital that as well as being a robust and hard-working organisation we can also be light on our feet and quick to react to challenges as they emerge,” added Mr McLaren.

Levy income for the year ahead is estimated to be £4.8m, a similar level to the year just ended. Coupled with over £1 million of grant income which QMS has succeeded in leveraging for the year ahead, this will finance an overall spend of £5.8 million to deliver a programme of activity for the industry (excluding assurance schemes).

“While we are pleased to have secured this strong grant support for the industry much of this income is of a short-term nature and, not surprisingly given the prevailing belt-tightening in the public sector we anticipate this will be difficult to maintain at these levels. Clearly the income generated from the industry levy is the cornerstone to attracting the additional funding which enhances the success of our activity going forward,” said ‘Uel Morton, QMS Chief Executive.

“Of that total spend, marketing and promotion expenditure increases to around £2.6m which, coupled with a spend of £1.6m on activities to improve industry efficiency and resilience, is great news for the industry. We have an excellent programme of activity planned for the year ahead in line with QMS’ overall objective of shaping a sustainable and prosperous Scottish red meat industry,” Mr Morton added.

He also emphasised that operational efficiency and driving value for money remains at the heart of the way the organisation is run.

“Our evolution to a public body three years ago means levy payers can be assured of very high standards of governance and accountability,” said Mr Morton.

Laurent Vernet, QMS Head of Marketing, gave an insight into just one or two of the new activities the QMS marketing team has up its sleeve for the year ahead. Among these is a new mobile phone application.

“The new ‘app’ we are developing will provide consumers with cooking tips for preparing steaks and roasts and we are very excited about the potential of this new technology,” said Mr Vernet.

“The coming year will also see us stepping up the ‘Behind the Label’ campaign we launched last year. The original campaign was very well received and the next phase of the campaign will see the focus switch to improving consumers’ understanding of the world-leading assurance schemes behind our brands and the importance of the Scottish red meat industry to the local economy,” added Mr Vernet.

QMS is undertaking a review of its export marketing strategy as well as a review of the marketing strategy behind Specially Selected Pork with a “Meat Guide for Amateur and Professional Chefs” also being developed.

QMS is currently delivering around 50 research and development projects, coupled with a further 43 groups – including monitor farms and business improvement groups - aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of the Scottish red meat industry.

“One very exciting new activity for the year ahead will be the implementation of new isotope traceability technology which is set to support our existing supply chain integrity checks,” said Andy McGowan, QMS Head of Industry Development.

Scotland will lead the rest of the UK in the commercial use for beef of new isotope technology which has been developed to establish the “unique fingerprint” of meat determining where it was produced. Laboratory analysis of isotope and trace element information extracted from meat samples – including hydrogen, carbon and oxygen isotopes – will allow the authenticity of meat to be tested.

“Our existing activity to ensure supply chain integrity includes plant inspections, in-store label audits and targeted spot checks. This new technology will support the current paper-based audit and allow us to make unannounced visits to retailers and restaurants and test samples of products being sold there to ensure their source claims are accurate,” Mr McGowan added.

The initial focus of the testing, set to get underway later this year, will be on beef and pork.

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