Coronavirus restrictions could lead to a backlog of animals on farms waiting to be processed at abattoirs, warns Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
The levy body’s director of economics services, Stuart Ashworth, said the Covid-19 lockdown was causing considerable issues in the red meat supply chain beyond the farm gate. He said productivity in the slaughter and processing sector was lower due to staff self-isolating and social distancing rules.
“Slower production and process lines does lead to the prospect of a lower ability to handle animals, with a knock-on effect that animals will begin to back-up on farm,” added Mr Ashworth.
He said the loss of sales to the foodservice sector and schools had reduced demand for red meat, despite an increase in sales via other outlets such as high street butchers, convenience stores and supermarkets.
“Although, even here, this demand has been volatile with a big surge in the early stages, followed by a slower demand more recently.
“Some multiple retailers are also reporting food sales in the past week below their normal expectation for this time of year,” added Mr Ashworth.
He said a change in consumer buying habits and the loss of out-of-home eating had resulted in a reduced demand for roasts and steaks, affecting the revenues for abattoirs.
Cattle prices have also come under pressure in the past forntnight with the average EU price back 3% since Easter, said Mr Ashworth.