Sheep farmers are being urged to seize opportunities put before them by a series of lamb supply chain workshops throughout Scotland.
A speaker at one such workshop, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, Farm Stock (Scotland) Ltd and the Scottish Government Skills Development Scheme, said working together would be a key factor in the successful future of the Scottish sheep industry.
Borders farmer Andrew Elliot, who is based at Blackhaugh near Galashiels and employs Farm Stock (Scotland) Ltd to market the lambs from his four hill and upland units, said: “The fact is that there are 15,000 farmers, 20 processors and just five or six main retailers marketing 70% of our lamb.
‘‘It’s not hard to see where the balance of power lies and it’s a no-brainer to me to see that there needs to be more farmers involved in marketing groups.
“The reality is that we’re seeing our sheep population continue to fall – having reduced by 16% in the past 10 years.
“However, the Borders has one sixth of Scotland’s total ewe flock and we produce around 19% of the lambs in Scotland. We have perfect terrain for producing top quality lamb and it is important we make the most of the opportunity we have to do so.”
The workshops are expanding on key findings from a project undertaken during the 2012/13 lamb marketing season which identified that every link of the supply chain - from farmers to hauliers, processors and retailers - is struggling to make a margin due to the absence of an integrated, collaborative supply chain.
The report describes the Scottish sheep industry being hampered by what is known as an ‘adversarial trading model’, whereby each part of the supply chain is interested in achieving the best outcome for itself.
For more information on meetings, or to download the full report, visit www.qmscotland.co.uk or call 0131 472 4040.