CELEBRATING and showcasing Scotland’s red meat sector and the valuable role played by farmers and crofters in their guardianship of the countryside, will be centre stage in a new campaign by QMS.

There is now a collaborative drive by the industry to get behind the new ‘Meat with Integrity’ campaign – which hopes to raise the profile of Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork and highlight the red meat sectors’ environmental and animal welfare credentials.

The campaign, due to launch on July 29, will promote the industry’s world-renowned quality assurance schemes which cover the entire production process, including farms, hauliers, feed companies, auction markets and processors.

Four farmers have been revealed as ‘faces’ for the campaign, including Sutherland sheep farmer, Joyce Campbell: “It’s time that we start putting some really bad myths to bed surrounding the agricultural industry and start communicating not with ourselves but with our customers. We need to tell them the story behind their food and the passion, care and love that goes in to producing it.

“As a farmer, I would be desperately sad to think I was ever doing damage to my environment – I work alongside nature and it’s a privilege I don’t take for granted, caring for this beautiful countryside,” she said.

Ms Campbell said she didn’t hesitate to back the campaign and hoped her emotional message about ‘pride and passion’ will come through in the footage: “I get tired of the naysayers and think that if everyone put their shoulder to the wheel a little and took the effort to ask important questions about where their food comes from, then these conversations would become normal speak and the public will soon develop a sense of pride and attachment to their food.”

She said farmers also have to be more willing to work with their customers: “We need to start speaking to the wider public and our non-farming friends – we have to become more aware of our presence in the public eye and begin to see ourselves through their eyes.”

Chief executive of QMS, Alan Clarke, added: “A huge amount of time and energy has gone into developing this campaign which will also raise awareness of the heritage and expertise in the industry, along with the priority given to robust traceability and quality assurance. As an industry, we have been incredibly frustrated by the lack of balance and accuracy in much of the media reporting over the past few months and now is the time to pull together as an industry to redress that.”

Over this week, NFU Scotland has undertaken a burger ‘shelf watch’ to identify the volumes of home-produced product on Scottish supermarket shelves. The secret shoppers counted 2500 packs of burgers across the larger national grocery chains and found that 96% of burgers were home-produced, but less than half of these were explicitly burgers were home-produced, but less than half of these were explicitly Scottish.

Aldi came out on top, with 100% British burgers (86% explicitly Scottish), while Asda had 67% British, with just 6% named as being Scottish.

NFU Scotland’s livestock committee chairman, Jimmy Ireland, commented: “With farmers struggling to make any return from the market at the moment, the message is clear, that people should back Scotch Beef as much as possible this barbecue season. Aldi and Tesco topped the chart for the availability of Scotch beef burgers, with 86% of packs in Aldi and 72% in Tesco clearly labelled with the Scotch Beef PGI.

“However, there was some unclear mixed origin labelling found on own-label products in ASDA as well as on branded products not included in the survey. This once again demonstrates the need to increase transparency of origin labelling to ensure shoppers have the information they need to choose Scotch every time,” he said.