A BOOST for the Scottish commercial sheep sector has come from the Scottish Government, which has allocated £200,000 in funding to support Quality Meat Scotland's promotion of Scotch lamb PGI.

Rural Affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said: “Our food and drink sector plays a significant and growing part in Scotland’s economy, so it is vital that we support the promotion of our premium produce at home and abroad.

“I want more people in Scotland and across the wider UK to buy more Scotch Lamb,” she said. “Last year, we gave QMS £200,000 to support its marketing campaign to promote Scotch Lamb, which saw a 27% increase in spend per buyer on lamb and a 20% increase in volume purchased per buyer during the promotional period.

“So, building on that success, I am delighted to announce that this government will provide QMS with an additional £200,000 to support marketing activity in the coming year. The funding will help to encourage more of us to include high quality Scotch Lamb in our weekly shopping basket. It also sends a strong signal about how this government supports our sheep farming sector now and, in the future,” she enthused.

QMS have revealed plans to launch a new 'Meat with Integrity' campaign in the coming months, with the aim of raising awareness of the Scottish industry’s high animal welfare standards and sustainability credentials. The campaign will be fronted by Scottish farmers and other individuals from across the whole supply chain, advocating the benefits of choosing to buy Scotch assured meat.

QMS chief Alan Clarke commented: “This funding is fantastic news for the whole sheep industry and sends a clear signal of confidence in Scotch Lamb PGI as a tasty, nutritious ingredient at the heart of Scotland’s natural larder.

“Scotch Lamb is underpinned by whole-chain quality assurance which makes animal welfare standards a priority and the additional funding will allow us to build on the success of our 2018 Scotch Lamb marketing and public relations campaign – 'Scotch Lamb, Naturally',” he explained.

NFU Scotland vice president Martin Kennedy, a hill farmer from Highland Perthshire who fronted the recent QMS campaign highlighting the role of farmers as both producers and environmental custodians, said: “These are very uncertain times for Scotland’s iconic sheep sector as Brexit, and the potential of a ‘no deal’ casts a long shadow over future access to vital overseas markets.

“It makes boosting home consumption and getting more tasty Scotch Lamb PGI onto menus in the home, into the catering sector and into public procurement all the more crucial. The success of last year’s campaign, which I was delighted to participate in, was hugely encouraging. NFUS, working with QMS, has also seen recent success getting lamb onto school menus.

“It is fantastic that further funding is to come forward to help build on last year’s campaign, reminding all of the taste, versatility and uniqueness of Scotch Lamb PGI,” he concluded.