In a letter to Defra Minister George Eustice, it outlined the importance of shoppers being able to identify where the beef they are buying comes from.
NFU Scotland livestock chair Jimmy Ireland said: “Consumers need to be able to be confident when they are buying beef products that they are getting high quality, high welfare, environmentally considerate Scottish beef with low food miles.
“Although we have strong regulations on the labelling of fresh beef products there are significant weaknesses in the regulations surrounding processed beef which too easily allows for imported beef to be used without the consumer being aware.”
It raised the issue of origin labelling on processed food products where beef makes up one of the main ingredients of that product as such a measure would enable the consumer to support domestic beef production whilst enhancing transparency in the marketplace.
“Improving the country of origin labelling on processed beef products will not only improve consumer confidence, it will also improve the transparency within the supply chain as consumers will have confidence in where all their beef products come from,” added Ireland. “Clearer origin labelling should also be progressed for processed lamb, pork and chicken products so that the Scottish public can support domestic livestock production across the sectors
“Scottish shoppers want to buy Scottish and we want to guarantee they can week in, week out.”
Recent research by NFU Scotland into the availability of Scotch Beef burgers in domestic supermarkets found that of the 2,500 packs of burgers counted across major retail chains, 96% were produced in Scotland but less than half of these were explicitly Scottish.
The survey, conducted in July, also found branded products were carrying unclear origin labelling despite the brands claiming association with Scotland.
Ireland said: “The good news here is that the general public can find Scottish burgers available in most supermarkets in Scotland. However, it’s surprising to see that they were hard to find in two of the nations largest retailers, ASDA and Sainsbury’s.
“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.”