CONSUMER DEMAND for locally sourced red meat and dairy is on the rise, as figures show an increase in sales across the board.

Sales of red meat were up 7% in the 12 weeks leading up to July – according to figures from Quality Meat Scotland – versus the same period pre-Covid, and this was largely driven by sales of beef.

During the month of August, figures also showed significant growth, particularly in sausages and fresh beef, which were up £5m and £1.7m respectively.

A spike in dairy demand was recorded by AHDB, with sales of dairy products in the UK increasing for the second year in a row, with cow’s milk up 4.2% and cheese up 4.5% on the previous year.

A growing interest in food provenance developed during lockdown with more time spent at home cooking, which piqued interest in the farm to fork process. This growing trend has translated into sign-up figures for the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland’s Lamb Bank for St Andrews Day 2021 – a campaign which seeks to give more school children the opportunity to taste, eat, and cook with Scotch Lamb on the patron saint’s day this November 30. Over 175 schools totalling 25,000 pupils have already signed up – which is more than double 2020’s total.

Thanking Scottish consumers for their continued support, NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “In these well documented, challenging times for all, it is extremely encouraging and appreciated that there is a demand for Scottish produce. We as an industry have much to be proud of, with our high environmental and animal welfare standards, and I want to thank the public for their support of Scottish agriculture.

“Consumers making informed choices to ask for and buy Scottish produce in restaurants, shops, or direct from source is hugely appreciated," he continued. "It is important that supermarkets also play their part in ensuring that British and Scottish produce is readily available on shelves.”

Turning to COP26, the UN’s annual climate summit, happening in Glasgow this year between Sunday, November 1 and Friday, November 12, Mr Kennedy pointed out that these positive industry figures show consumers are increasingly looking to shop local and see Scottish red meat and dairy as key components of healthy, sustainable diets.

“COP presents a fantastic platform to tell the world about the strides Scottish agriculture is making to tackle climate change and improve the environment while producing fresh, local, and sustainable food and drink," he continued. "Our #FarmingForTheFuture social media campaign aims to highlight what our industry is already doing to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, and to emphasise that we are more than ready to face the challenges ahead.

"We would welcome your support of this campaign by sharing the assets we have made available on our website (NFU Scotland | /farming-for-the-future.aspx) on social media over the next few weeks as we approach COP26,” he concluded.