Sales of Scotch lamb jumped by 19% during the three months to 4 November following the first phase of a Quality Meat Scotland marketing campaign.
Speaking at a conference in Perth this week, QMS chairman Donald Biggar said the rise was hard evidence that effective marketing can make a difference.
The body increased its annual Scotch lamb marketing budget to £500,000 for the six month 2007/08 campaign as a result of drawing down £100,000 of its reserves and receiving a further £100,000 from the Scottish Government in the wake of FMD.
Results from market research organisation, TNS, reveal sales of lamb increased from 757 to 903 tonnes during the 12 weeks to November 4th. Value sales of lamb increased in Scotland by 12% from £5.5M to £6.2M and the number of households purchasing lamb increased from 46.9% to 50.4%.
The campaign, said Mr Biggar, was ramped up in response to the dire outlook facing the Scottish sheep industry as a result of the shockwaves from FMD and the closure of export markets.
But he warned what hadn’t happened was any meaningful rise in the amount being paid to producers saying what was needed was a “dramatic increase” in the amount of lamb slaughtered in Scotland.
“A million pound’s worth of levy is currently being lost to Scotland every year due to the number of Scottish lambs slaughtered south of the border. “The money is effectively being used to fund the marketing efforts of our competitors in England and Wales,” Mr Biggar stated.
“The industry is currently caught in a vicious circle – low prices at farm-gate, economics making slaughtering outside Scotland more cost effective than at home, limited amounts of branded Scotch lamb competing for shelf-space in shops, and not enough levy money available for a sustained marketing campaign that can deliver long-term benefits all the way to the producer’s pocket,” he added.