Publication - Research and analysis

Mobile abattoirs - viability and sustainability: report

Published: 12 Mar 2020
From:
Director-General Economy
Directorate:
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural
ISBN:
9781839606076

The findings of a study carried out to determine whether or not mobile slaughter units (MSUs) would be viable in Scotland.

133 page PDF

1.6 MB

133 page PDF

1.6 MB

Contents
Mobile abattoirs - viability and sustainability: report
3.0 Abattoir Infrastructure In Scotland

133 page PDF

1.6 MB

3.0 Abattoir Infrastructure In Scotland

3.1 Geographical and Livestock Coverage

Box 1. Key Findings: Abattoir Infrastructure in Scotland

In 2019, there were twenty-four licensed red meat abattoirs operating in Scotland with cattle being processed at 20 sites, while 18 processed sheep and 16 processed pigs. There are many areas of mainland Scotland, including parts of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross & Cromarty, Argyll and Bute, where abattoir locations involve moving animals more than 100 miles from the farm.

Across the country abatoir infrastructure provision can be summarised as indicated in the following table and figure.

Table 1. Summary of abattoir infrastructure
Abattoir Names and Locations Livestock Slaughtered Private Kill?
Cattle Sheep Pigs Goats Other e.g. Deer
Scottish Mainland Abattoirs
Aberdeen Kepak McIntosh Donald Y Y N N No
Paisley, Sandyford John Scott (Meat) Ltd Y Y N Y Yes
Perth ABP Scotland Y N N N Yes
Inverurie Scotbeef Inverurie Ltd Y Y Y Y No
Grantown-on Spey Millers of Speyside Y Y Y Y Yes
Wishaw PR Duff Y Y Y Y Yes
Bridge of Allan Scotbeef Ltd (Bridge of Allan) Y Y N N No
Brechin Quality Pork Scotland (Brechin) N N Y N No
Turriff Woodhead Bros Y Y Y Y No
Lockerbie Border Meats Y Y Y Y Yes
Saltcoats Dunbia Highland Meats (Dawn Meats) Y N N N No
Ayr AK Stoddart Ltd Y Y Y N No
Dingwall John M Munro Y Y Y Y Yes
Ardrossan J. Robertson & Sons (Hamcurers) N N Y No
Shotts James Chapman Y Y Y Y Yes
Nr Glenrothes Stagison/Downfield N Y N Y Y Yes
Nr Melrose Hardiesmill (Pasture to Plate) Y N N N No
Island Abattoirs
North Uist Lochmaddy abattoir Y Y Y Y Yes
Mull Mull abattoir Y Y Y Y Yes
Barra Barra abattoir Y Y Y Y Yes
Lewis Western Isles Council Y Y Y Y Yes
Islay Avonvogie abattoir Y Y Y Y Yes
Shetland Shetland abattoir Y Y Y Y Yes

Across the country abatoir infrastructure provision can be summarised as indicated in the following table and figure.

The abattoirs in the table above are plotted in the following figure, for reference.

Figure 1. Map [4] showing abattoir infrastructure locations (blue dots)
Map 23

3.2 Abattoir Development

The 2019 QMS report “The Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile[5]” comments that in 2018, although throughput was 3.5% below its five-year average, production volumes were higher than their 2014–18 average. The report goes on to say:

“During 2018, Scottish Government slaughter data indicates that 1.92m animals were processed by Scottish abattoirs. This was an increase of 3.5% and followed three consecutive years of declines. Red meat production also rose by 3.5%, reaching an estimated 219,000t.”

In 2014 a report was published, commissioned by the “Beef 2020 Short Life Industry Group”, established at the request of the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affaires, Food and the Environment. It published the “Beef 2020 Report – A vision for the beef industry in Scotland”. In terms of abattoir provision, the report comments (the emphasis in bold font is ours):

“Cattle production in Scotland is a fragmented industry, 7,400 businesses producing single suckled calves while only 22 abattoirs kill cattle. While a number of these abattoirs work as wholesalers or contract slaughterers with the Scottish retail trade, the eight largest sites covering some 88% of the kill predominately work with the UK multiple retailers, who take the majority of the production from these sites, with some separate non UK export sales as well. This structure of the supply chain creates challenges in respect of communication of market specifications, market signals and potential supply profiles along the supply chain. It is estimated that less than 10% of Scottish born cattle killed in Scottish abattoirs are purchased through the auction market ring. This leads to limited transparency over market price determination which can lead to a breakdown of trust between cattle producer and cattle buyer.”

The report does not make any references to mobile abattoirs, nor make recommendations in terms of a greater need for more locally based abattoirs. However, the above statement does describe the commercial arrangement that exists in terms of how cattle is managed through the current supply chain and is important to understand in terms of how the retail market is changing and influencing this supply chain.

In a recent report published by the Sustainable Food Trust, it is reported that over the last decade more than a third of small abattoirs have closed across the UK for a variety of reasons. The report identifies that the number of all red meat abattoirs has fallen to 249 from 320 in 2007 and almost 1,900 in 1970 (UK statistics)[6].

In the context of this study, the options available to individuals in terms of private kill are therefore under pressure when the abattoir sector is increasingly dominated by the multiple retailers, and abattoirs are set up to respond to this. This results in abattoir processes which are increasingly not set up for small batches or animals, including one-offs, to address the smaller-scale, niche demands of many farmers, crofters and small-holders. Both MSUs and small, fixed abattoirs, may therefore be the opportunity to provide a service to remote communities that is not currently available.

The map shown in Figure 1 highlights that there are many areas of mainland Scotland, including parts of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross & Cromarty, Argyll and Bute, where abattoir locations involve moving animals more than 100 miles from the farm. For places such as the Orkney islands and many of the inner Hebridean islands, this is compounded by requirements for ferry journeys.


Contact

Email: socialresearch@gov.scot