EFFORTS TO increase domestic consumption of Scotch lamb have been boosted by £200,000 of new funding announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at this week's Turriff Show.

After confirming the funding for Quality Meat Scotland’s 2018 Scotch lamb promotional campaign, the First Minister stayed to barbecue Scotch lamb with young farmers and local butchers – and QMS chairman Jim McLaren.

"Today's announcement by the First Minister is fantastic news for the Scottish sheep industry and it's a great boost for our producers," said Mr McLaren on the Turriff showfield. "This additional funding will enhance our comprehensive marketing and public relations Scotch Lamb PGI campaign, which is due to launch at the end of August.

"The eight-week campaign will spread the word to Scottish consumers about the quality, taste and versatility of Scotch Lamb – the perfect mid-week meal."

Ms Sturgeon said that it was important that Scotland promote its premium produce: “The strength of our farming industry would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of the farmers who work tirelessly to produce high quality meat.

“That hard work and premium product is recognised by the protection given by the EU to the Scotch Lamb brand and we will be working hard to continue that protection in the future.

“I’m pleased we could support this year’s campaign which will help encourage consumers to buy Scotch lamb as part of their regular shopping.”

Scotch lamb is one of 15 Scottish products currently protected by Geographical Indicators under EU law – and NFU Scotland vice president Martin Kennedy noted that the extra promotional cash was a welcome boost amidst the marketing worries raised by Brexit.

“This news comes at an important time for sheep farmers," said Mr Kennedy. "With on-going Brexit uncertainty, this news will bring a confidence boost as we head in to peak lamb production. The Lairg store lamb sale taking place next week, one of the largest sheep sales in Europe, often provides a barometer for sheep farming’s fortunes so this is the right time to be positive about our sector.

“Everyone who has tasted Scotch Lamb knows that it is a flavourful and natural meat, produced on our doorstep backed by a rich heritage. NFU Scotland will continue to work with QMS to increase consumption of Scotch Lamb in Scotland and in other markets. Next week will also see NFU Scotland publish the results of its latest lamb shelf watch, highlighting which supermarket chains are supporting the Scottish industry.

“I would encourage everyone to get behind the new QMS Scotch Lamb marketing campaign when it begins at the end of the month.”