NFU Scotland is urging shoppers and retailers to boost their support for tasty, nutritious Scotch beef this spring as it prepares for the return of its 'Shelfwatch' survey.

Beef farmers and crofters are facing challenging trading conditions, with prices down by as much as 22% compared to last summer.

The union said this was mainly due to poorer retail sales at home, while a strengthening of sterling against the euro since August 2018 has also affected the export market.

The low beef price is further compounding the uncertainty felt by many beef farmers during the ongoing political confusion over Brexit, with farmers and crofters unsure or unable to invest for the future.

The survey, which will be carried out over the coming weeks, will look at what's in stock in Scotland's biggest retailers to identify which retailers are supporting the Scotch Beef PGI label over imported produce.

Shoppers are reminded that local butchers and farm shops are often the best place to go to find locally sourced Scotch beef.

NFU Scotland Livestock Committee chairman Jimmy Ireland said: “Scottish beef farmers and crofters will continue to do our part to feed the nation with high quality and healthy beef despite challenging economic conditions, but we need to be supported by our retailers and customers now more than ever.

“While we are still some time away from prime BBQ weather, shoppers can continue to support Scotch beef this spring, look for the Scotch Beef PGI label and make sure beef plays a part when planning a healthy, hearty menu each week.

“While we all love beef stews or a top-quality steak, why not be a bit more adventurous by having a spaghetti bolognese or spicy beef curry.

We know that Scottish shoppers strongly value the great story that Scottish beef farming has to tell, recognising our high-quality assurance standards as well as the significant environmental benefits generated by grazing Scotland’s grassy hills and uplands.

“It’s important, therefore, that our largest retailers show the strongest possible support for us in their stores.  That’s why NFU Scotland will be carrying out a beef shelf watch in the coming weeks, to identify the best supporters of Scotch beef, and thank them for that support.

“Next month, Quality Meat Scotland will launch its latest marketing campaign for the Scotch Beef PGI, which NFU Scotland is wholeheartedly supporting. I’d urge everyone to get behind the campaign and to be extremely proud of what we do – delivering the best-tasting, high-quality beef.

“The economic conditions may be challenging; the weather is unpredictable, and the post-Brexit future is uncertain.  However, the one thing people can be certain of is that Scotch beef is the best.”