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31 December 2013

Local MSP Urges Retailers and Consumers to go Scottish on Poultry

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is backing efforts by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead to promote the Scottish poultry sector with the new Scottish Poultry Plan.

Mr Lochhead is writing to major supermarkets, catering companies and fast food chains to find out where they currently source their chicken and what their future intentions are. Other work being taken forward includes examining the options for creating a premium brand for Scottish chicken, identifying opportunities for poultry farmers to work together to cut costs.

Local MSP Mr Stevenson is also urging consumers in the North-east to think Scottish when buying poultry and check labels on products to see where they are being sourced from.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The poultry sector has been under immense pressure of late with recent announcements by major processors adding to the uncertainty.

“I am therefore very pleased that the Scottish Government recognises the importance of this vital sector to the rural economy and is taking steps to support and promote Scottish-produced poultry.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said:

“In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, people are even more aware now than ever before of where their food comes from. For our local producers in Moray and for Scotland as a whole, where we have a reputation for high quality premium product this has the potential for significant benefit to our vital agricultural sector.

“People want to know what they are buying and Scottish produce has impeccable quality and provenance. The sooner we move to a position where the poultry consumed in Scotland is produced in Scotland, the better for us all – for consumers, for food companies, and, above all, for Scotland’s poultry sector.

“I have no doubt that when consumers are served chicken or purchase chicken at their local supermarket or in a fast food chain they would prefer it to be sourced as close to home as possible.

“Whether on poultry or other meat products the closer to home it is produced the more likely it is to support local farm jobs, hauliers, feed suppliers and other supply chain jobs.

“I am writing to major supermarkets, food service companies and fast food chains to ask where the currently source their chicken, including whole birds, chicken portions and the cooked ingredients used in their meals and sandwiches. Consumers need to know the facts and need transparency.

“Earlier this year Tesco made a very welcome commitment to source 100 per cent fresh Scottish chicken in its stores and I would like to see that replicated elsewhere.”

Scotland Food and Drink Chief Executive James Withers said:

“For any sector to have a future, it needs clear demand from customers. We know there is strong demand from shoppers in Scotland for high quality chicken. A number of supermarkets have a strong track record in sourcing their chicken from Scotland and, clearly, they will have a pivotal role in the future of the sector. We’ll need their support to underpin the poultry plan.

“When it comes to the catering industry though, the picture can be much more mixed. It will be hugely helpful to explore further how the big catering firms might source chicken in future. I’ve spoken to hotel chefs myself who would be interested in sourcing high quality Scottish poultry and switching away from imports. It is these kinds of opportunities we now need to grasp, at the same time as developing a more sustainable processing structure.”

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