Navigating Meat Industry Challenges at SAMW New Year Lunch 2024
Lively Discussion on Recruitment, Perception, and Future Hopes
Kicking off the New Year, industry leaders gathered for a thought-provoking panel discussion at SAMW’s New Year Lunch 2024. The conversation delved into pressing issues facing the meat industry, from recruitment challenges to changing perceptions and hopes for the future. The lively discussion saw Marion MacCormick, Scotland Food & Drink Board Member; Jack Brown, Kepak management trainee; Scott Walker, SAMW Executive Manager; Emma Hodge, AgriScot beef farm of the year 2023; and Andrew Duff, MacDuff 1890, sharing their insights and experiences.
Question One: Embracing What We Love and Driving Change
The discussion began with a reflection on the industry’s positive aspects and desired changes. Participants unanimously expressed their love for the Scottish meat industry while highlighting the need to cut red tape that has increasingly burdened farmers. Addressing misconceptions surrounding the industry and promoting a proper appreciation for the rich offerings in our larder were key goals. The call for change echoed in the desire to dispel inaccurate claims perpetuated by the non-meat lobby.
Question Two: Attracting New Talent and Breaking Stereotypes
Recruiting the next generation emerged as a shared concern. Participants pointed to the challenge of changing negative perceptions of meat, especially when schools label it as detrimental to health. The need to engage with schools to provide an accurate representation of the industry and leveraging social media as a communication tool were emphasised. Acknowledging the industry’s ageing demographic, the discussion called for greater involvement of the younger generation in shaping the future of farming.
Question Three: Navigating Livestock Challenges and Ensuring Food Security
Livestock numbers and food security took centre stage in the conversation. Suggestions included revisiting the grading system to reward producers aligning with industry requirements and providing additional financial support to farmers facing rising input costs. Participants stressed the importance of ensuring that government policies understand and support food security requirements. Concerns were raised about potential constraints on livestock production amid ambitious tree planting initiatives, emphasising the need for a balanced approach.
Question Four: Hopes and Aspirations for the Next Decade
As the discussion turned towards the future, panellists shared their hopes for the next decade. Continuous innovation, unity within the industry, and the success of traditional meat production were underscored. The collective aspiration was for ensuring the continued production of the best meat in the world. The sentiment echoed a desire for resilience and growth within the industry.
Editor’s Note: These insights are condensed excerpts from a dynamic debate that included informed contributions from SAMW members and guests. The event not only provided valuable perspectives but also set the stage for a promising 2024 in the meat industry.