Sheep and lamb processing: assessment

Research investigating the opportunities and challenges industry faces in retaining and increasing sheep and lamb processing in Scotland.

Appendix 1 - Methodology

The methodology followed for this project comprised three main strands: a review of academic and grey literature; analysis of industry statistics; and contacting or interviewing industry experts and stakeholders.

The literature review drew on the research team's prior knowledge of relevant material, but was supplemented by internet searches of academic, government and industry sources. Google and Google Scholar were the main search engines used, but use was also made of Web of Science and AgEconSearch plus direct searching of specific websites hosted by industry bodies. Given the scope, budget and lifespan of the project, no attempt was made to follow a formal systematic literature review protocol, but search terms revolved around key words including: lamb; processing; supply-chains; value-added; demand; consumption; procurement; and, marketing.

Statistical analysis was mainly of published, aggregate data available from various government or industry sources. However, privileged access to some abattoir-specific data (not presented in the final report) helped to provide analytical context for the research team, and access to detailed consumption data in the Kantar database allowed statistical analysis of specific aspects of lamb demand.

Table 9 below lists industry experts and stakeholders contacted for information, with the summary questions forming the basis of email enquiries or telephone/face-to-face discussions appended below.

Table 9 Industry experts and stakeholders contacted for information.

Organisation Person Email Verbal
AHDB Awal Fuseini
AHDB Duncan Wyatt
APUC Andy Anderson
Brakes Chris Boyle
Campbell Prime Meats Iain Brown
Caledonian Marts Ali Logan
Defra Janet Carr
Expert Brian Pack OBE
EQL Rizvan Khalid
Farmer David Girvan
Farmer Jamie Tweedie
Farm Stock (Scotland) Ltd Jonny Williams
IAAS Andrew Wright
Kepak (retired Jan'19) Alan McNaughton
Kepak Frank Clark
McCaskie Butchers Nigel Ovens
Mclays Foods John Mclay
Morrisons Samantha Trick
NHSS Loraine Hartley
NSA/ farmer John Fyall
QMS Stuart Ashworth
QMS Carol McLaren
QMS Iain Macdonald
QMS Tom Gibson
SAMW Martin Morgan
Scotbeef Bill McKinnon
ScotEID Support@
Scotland-Excel Lynsey Gordon/Lesley Richards
SPS Tammy Paterson
Taste Shetland Ronnie Eunson
United Auctions George Purves
Waitrose Duncan Sinclair
Woodheads Richard Henderson

Questions to buyers and sellers engaged in public procurement and food-service supply-chains:

  • What rules have to be followed in terms of using Scottish suppliers? (e.g. preference for Scottish, but subject to some price/quality/reliability criteria?)
  • Are contracts with actual producers (e.g. abattoirs) or intermediaries (e.g. Brakes)? And for how long (e.g. seasonal, menu-planning period)?
  • What scope is there for substitution if (e.g.) prices change? Both between products (e.g. Scottish chicken rather than Scottish lamb) or suppliers (e.g. Scottish vs. rUK)?
    • And who makes decisions about substitutions? Is lamb actually specified, or just meat?
  • Do you have any data (e.g. last five years) on actual annual volumes of lamb (and ideally which cuts) have been procured, and within this how much of it was Scottish?
  • Do you have any views on how volumes might change in the future? (e.g. "peak lamb" leading to overall decline in favour of chicken, increase in Scottish lamb share of total lamb?)
  • Is "Scottish" important to all customers? Or is it more a case of either the right quality and/or price rather than Scottish specifically? And does this vary with cut?
  • How easy is it for you to source specific cuts or quality of Scottish lamb, and/or other requirements (such as halal)?
  • Has the share of Scottish lamb changed as a proportion of the total lamb that you supply? Do you think it will change in future?
  • Overall lamb consumption appears to be declining – do you see this from your customers? (e.g. are they switching to other meats)
  • Do you have any views on how the demand for all lamb and for Scottish lamb might change in the future?
  • How does lamb compare to other meats in relative volume terms?

Structure Interview with processors re opportunities

What markets are important? Under a soft compared to hard Brexit? (especially interested to hear thoughts on export market potential)


Priority (1 to 3 where 1=low) Product type Comment


Rest GB

  • London


  • France
  • Belguim
  • Germany
  • Med


  • North America
  • N.Africa
  • Asia (China, India)

Halal (in all of above)

Light lambs (all of above)

How could market identification, research and development be improved?

  • Better market research by own firm?
  • Better market research at industry level (QMS, AHDB)? (cf. Bord Bia)
  • Is lack of funding an issue? How could this be overcome?
  • Is language/culture an issue?
  • Would improving staff skills help?
  • Better collaboration with other levy bodies (eg, B&LNZ)
  • Better collaboration with other processors (ie, co-opetition)
  • Better collaboration with other industries (eg, Scotch whisky, fish)

Could products be made more attractive to increase demand?

  • Would new cuts better suited to modern living (convenience) help?
  • How could government help with New Product Development?
  • Could increasing focus on eating quality lift sales?
  • How important is provenance?

How important is pricing?

  • Does heavy price promotion help or hinder consumption and your work flow?
  • Would everyday low pricing be better?

Would better promotion of our lamb help?

  • Could our generic (Scotch Lamb) promotion be better? If yes, how?
  • Any scope to work with retailers and producers to improve "own brands"?

How are regulations affecting your business?

  • Ones relating to labour?
  • Traceability?
  • Animal welfare (eg, CCTV)?
  • Health & safety
  • Certification? Are too many bodies a problem?

Is the cost and ease of haulage, handling and processing limiting our competitiveness?

  • How limiting is the availability of skilled labour?
  • Would investment in new processing technologies help?
  • Any issues with livestock or product transportation (eg, containerisation)?
  • How could the availability of the right raw product (ie, lambs) be improved?
  • Would lower seasonality help your business? If so, how might this be achieved
  • Should a better lamb payment/grading system be introduced?
  • Why can the Australians and Kiwis find markets for heavyweight lambs?
  • How could better genetics be encouraged?
  • Is eating quality an issue? If so, options for improvement?



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