AGRICULTURE: New price records reached in cattle and sheep sectors

The latest report on the profile of the red meat industry, produced by Quality Meat Scotland (SMQ)also shows that overall demand for beef, lamb and pork has continued to rise, despite the rise of alternative proteins, and that emissions per unit of output are expected to decline.

Iain Macdonald, Market Intelligence Manager at QMS and author of the report, said: “Between the rollercoaster of lockdowns and what they meant for retail and foodservice, the search for new routes to market after the Brexit, labor shortages and rising costs, 2021 has been a really tough year for our sector and a crisis year for pork producers.

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For beef and lamb, however, he said the end of the year had seen domestic and global demand for Scottish red meat strong and market prices at record highs. And on the environment and climate change front, the upward trend in calf-to-cow and lamb-to-ewe ratios should lead to lower emissions per unit of output as the industry seeks to meet its environmental targets.

Iain Macdonald of QMS.

In the beef sector, there was a rebalancing of farm gate prices throughout the year for finished stock with the return of catering and the loosening of export controls, bringing prices of market beyond the peaks reached in 2013.

Store cattle prices showed a milder rise, but after a long period of decline, the Scottish breeding cattle herd proved more stable and calf registrations increased, supported by greater use of genetics cattle in the dairy herd. Prices for the best sheep jumped 21.2% at Scottish auctions during the year, 36.4% above the 2016-20 average.

Although customs controls at EU borders led to a considerable reduction in exports during the first quarter of 2021, the supply chain has adapted to the new rules – albeit at a higher cost in time and effort. money – which led to a return to a more “normal” situation. export level over the year. Processors faced significant labor shortages throughout the year, in part due to EU labor restrictions which reduced throughput.

Almost 80% of Scotland’s farm area was grass and pasture in June 2021, while 94% of farms had some grass or pasture area, showing why animal production is vital for the Scottish rural economy.

The analysis also noted that Scotland is self-sufficient in beef and lamb, and around 90% self-sufficient in pigmeat at farm level, and is a key supplier to consumers in the rest of the UK. Macdonald said this was important amid food safety concerns triggered by recent global events as well as to meet more immediate market demand.

“It demonstrates the importance of animal production in Scotland,” Mr Macdonald said, “With extensive grasslands and natural rainfall, we as a country can produce high quality, well-being red meat. be in a way that supports landscapes, industry and rural communities while meeting the demands of the modern consumer who seeks strong sustainability credentials when making their purchasing choices.

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