Despite news of some abattoirs either closing their doors or working with reduced staff, the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said all Scottish plants remained in production early this week.

Staff, they said, were working hard to satisfy an unprecedented retail demand, with workers following Scottish Government guidance relating to Covid-19, which is reducing numbers in some cases.

However, they warned that while demand for meat from retail clients is at unprecedented levels, sales to the foodservice and hospitality sectors have obviously crashed following the closure of restaurants, pubs and clubs.

Sheepmeat can still be exported to the continent too, with the lockdown controls that are being applied across mainland Europe applying to the movement of people and not food products.

A spokesperson for SAMW said: “Retail demand is at an unprecedented level and we are confident Scottish plants can continue to service the current high demand for quality Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.

“The task of ensuring retail shelves are properly stocked for the benefit of all shoppers is obviously an issue which our retail partners are addressing.”

Commenting on the export market, AHDB pointed out that France remained open to commercial traffic although there are some extra checks in place.

Food products are on the list for priority entry through EU borders and lorry drivers are temporarily allowed to work on Sundays in France to help commercial traffic flow.

However, with additional restrictions limiting the population’s movements – open-air city markets are now closed, although markets in small rural villages where they are the only place to purchase food in the area can remain open – the closure of the city markets is expected to have a large effect on demand for wholesalers and regional and national wholesale markets.

Demand for lamb in France has been described as very low – in a similar situation to here in the UK – as shoppers panic bought and stocked up.

Nevertheless, many consumers are now eating through those stocks and with further restrictions, are expected to lead to an increase in shopping again, but this time most likely of poultry and pork, rather than more expensive beef and lamb.

Unfortunately, demand for lamb at Easter throughout Europe is expected to be low, which could lead to a significant over supply of leg cuts which are an Easter staple product for many. Retailers in some European countries have cancelled their Easter lamb marketing campaigns.