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Farmers and butchers now feel better equipped in their livestock and carcase selection to meet the demands of consumers and processors after the Meat the Market workshops hosted Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

The meetings held in August were the first of the 2019 ‘Meat the Market’ events and since the introduction of the workshop in 2018, there have been 12 Meat the Market events hosted by six different processors with an initial aim to help farmers improve their ‘hands-on’ selection of livestock for slaughter.

Meat the Market workshops have now expanded to include events aimed at both butchers and auctioneers, so that stakeholders at all stages of the supply chain have an opportunity to engage with, and ultimately better understand, the needs of consumers.

Drew McKenzie, of Robert Alexander Master Butchers in Inverclyde, attended the recent Meat the Market event at Wishaw Abattoir and found the experience highly valuable, and provided reassurance about current buying practices.

“There is a certain reassurance when something that you have learnt and practiced on the job is confirmed at an event like the Meat the Market workshop.

“The thing that puts most butchers off buying live is the confidence to do so. This session went a long way in showing what to actually look for,” said Mr McKenzie.

Farmer Louise Coghill of Skinnet Farm in Caithness runs 750 Scotch Mule ewes over 1000-acres and made the five-hour journey for the event at Scotbeef, Bridge of Allan,  to broaden her understanding of the lamb market she is aiming for, and how carcase specification may differ based on customer requirements.

“The event filled in a couple of blanks for me and it was really worthwhile attending the event and seeing the process from start to finish.

“From the workshop I think we could look at getting them away a bit earlier – we’re pretty close to getting it right but I think we sometimes put them away when they’re slightly over-finished and that’s a change we’re going to aim to make.

“I would encourage any farmers who haven’t attended a Meat the Market event to register their interest because I think it’s really useful to get involved and see the whole supply chain at work,” said Ms Coghill.

Knowledge Transfer Specialist at QMS, Dr Heather McCalman, was delighted at the positive response from processors, auctioneers, farmers and butchers.

“These visits help us all to understand more about the whole supply chain – whether you’re an auctioneer, a farmer or a butcher, it’s vital that we are all working together for the benefit of the end consumer.

“Throughout the workshops, there has been a clear and consistent message from the host processors that cattle carcases that grade at R3L and weigh 360-380Kg are an ideal specification and suit 90% of outlets with very little need for further processing or trimming. Similarly lamb carcases at R U 2 and 3L hit almost every specification if within a weight range of 16-21kg.”

Quality Meat Scotland will be rolling more Meat the Market workshops out in the coming months. You don’t have to be finishing livestock to attend, and each session is free of charge. To register your interest in attending the next round of Meat the Market workshops, please email lstrang@qmscotland.co.uk.