Building trust in the supply chain
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.
While many multiple retailers have initiated informal "producer groups" in an effort to secure supplies and offer some technical support, they have limited coverage. There is limited coverage of formally constituted producer organisations working in the cattle supply chain.