Scottish meat leaders are calling on the UK authorities to increase financial support in aid of export opportunities.
During a visit by Owen Paterson, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) bosses urged the minister to increase the country’s financial commitment to the work of the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP).
Uel Morton, chief executive of QMS, said: “We believe the UK is the only country which asks its industry to pay for the delivery of what is, in effect, diplomatic work. Export certification work, while admittedly technical in nature, is important, especially at a time when the economy is flat and there is a real need to develop export opportunities.”
He added that while good work was being done to open and develop markets in Europe, the UK continued to lag behind smaller European countries when it came to third-country markets.
During a round-table discussion in Edinburgh, chaired by Ray Jones, chairman of Scotland Food & Drink, Morton also called for stronger support from Defra for the EU’s protected geographical indication (PGI) mark
He said: “Scotland has a major role to play, in our view, in developing the premium export market, including countries such as Japan and China, which have a strong appetite for quality brands, and the PGI designation is the EU’s premier food quality mark. We are keen to ensure that trade negotiations by Defra take this into consideration.”