Scottish red meat sector turnover rises to £926m

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) said that turnover from primary red meat processing in Scotland is estimated to have risen for a third consecutive year in 2022, increasing 5% to £926 million.

“Revenues generated from beef, offal, hides and skins are all estimated to have risen but this was partially offset by reduced revenue from lamb and pork sales,” said QMS.

The figures are outlined in Quality Meat Scotland’s latest Red Meat Industry Profile.

After a slow start to 2022 for the cattle sector, farmgate prices for finished stock rebounded through Spring before reaching record high levels between April and December.

Average farmgate prices for prime cattle in Scotland were 10p per kg higher than in England and Wales during 2022 at 439p per kg.

QMS said store cattle prices were more subdued, struggling to rise above levels set earlier in the year.

In Scotland’s abattoir output, beef was valued at £668 million, sheepmeat at £119 million, pigmeat at £39 million, offal at £78 million and skins and hides at £24 million in 2022.

Prime sheep prices averaged 254p per kg liveweight in 2022 at Scottish auction marts, down 3% on the previous year, according to the report.

Iain Macdonald, Market Intelligence Manager at QMS and author of the report, said: “A combination of rising input costs, attractive cull cow prices and uncertainty over future agricultural support led to a renewed contraction of Scotland’s beef breeding herd, with numbers down 3.3% year-on-year in December.

“Calf registrations did, however, prove more stable, with greater use of beef genetics in the dairy herd underpinning numbers.

“Meanwhile, continuing labour supply challenges in Scotland’s abattoir sector and firm demand from finishers based in England, where the suckler herd had contracted more sharply since 2018, resulted in an increased outflow of store cattle, limiting the number of prime cattle available to Scottish abattoirs …

“Outside of a positive Christmas trading period, consumer demand for lamb struggled given its position as an expensive protein and the pressure on household budgets from a rising cost of living …

“Elevated feed costs and a backlog of slaughter-ready pigs waiting to be processed weighed on margins and led to further losses for producers.

“By the end of the year, a sharp contraction in breeding pig numbers had fed through to supplies, providing further support to market prices, while feed costs had begun to fall back.

“A tightening of supply in the EU also pushed up import prices, supporting the competitiveness of home-produced pork in the domestic and export markets …

“Livestock farming and processing is vital to our rural economy, so it’s positive to see that some input cost pressures are starting to ease back from the highs of 2022.

“What the latest Red Meat Industry Profile does highlight is the industry’s determination to continue producing high quality products while dealing with a wide range of supply chain challenges and economic and political uncertainty.

“In the first half of 2023, we have seen Scottish households continue to increase their spending on beef, lamb and pork – proving that Scots still have a strong appetite for red meat.”