The red meat sector is now worth £2.8 billion to the Scottish economy, up 16% from £2.4 billion from the last time its worth was assessed 2016, according to a new report by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Of this £2.8 billion, 46% was generated on-farm, 32% by meat processing, and the remaining by ‘core’ and ‘other’ supplies.

The Scottish Red Meat Sector Economic Impact Report 2023 adds that red meat output accounts for approximately 36% of national farming output, with on-farm output now up by more than £100 million, from £1.16 billion in 2016, to £1.27 billion now. 

The wider supply chain also generates important revenues with £885 million from meat processing, £361 million from core supply trading (veterinary, machinery, fertiliser, feed and repairs/buildings) and a further £225 million in output from other farm supplies it said.

The report also looked at employment within the red meat chain, which it said currently sustains 39,000 jobs. The majority of these jobs are on farm with 31,200 people, 3,880 in meat processing, 2,000 in the core supplies industry – such as feed and veterinary services – and 2,200 employed in other supplies to the sector.

Red meat sector in Scotland

Sarah Millar, QMS’ chief executive, believes this report is “vital to understanding the red meat supply chain in Scotland’s total as well as its rural economy”.

“Livestock farming is so important to the fabric of our rural economies, supporting both hired and family labour, in full-time and in part-time roles, and in-turn other local businesses in rural and remote places,” she said.

“What’s also important to note is that, when you add in the further processing of red meat into cooked foods and food service, for example, the total employment contribution of the red meat sector is even greater.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon also echoed Millar’s sentiment: “This report highlights the continued importance of the red meat supply chain both to Scotland’s economy as well as our rural communities.

“Improvements in on-farm efficiency as well as work to further build the brand and reputation of our nation’s iconic meats have led to a marked increase in value of the sector.

“This is down to the diligence and hard work of farmers, crofters and all those who work in the wider supply chain.”