Scottish farmers are going through tough times and pain is being felt by everyone across the sector.
In times like these it is often easy to play the blame game. Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has come under fire in recent weeks for not doing enough to promote Scottish produce.
In times of crisis we, as an industry, often forget the good work that organisations like QMS are already doing, and we don’t realise there is more we could be doing ourselves.
Anyone visiting the Taste of Grampian food festival at Thainstone on Saturday would have seen how their levy money is being put to good use.
QMS was the mainline sponsor for this year’s event under the Specially Selected Pork banner.
The levy body chose to focus on pork to coincide with a new campaign it has launched to get shoppers to use more Scottish pork.
You couldn’t go anywhere at the event without seeing some form of QMS branding, whether it was for Specially Selected Pork, Scotch Beef or Scotch Lamb.
The event, which was attended by more than 14,000 people, provided the perfect platform to showcase Scottish produce to Scottish shoppers.
And the line-up of celebrity chefs, which included Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala, from the Incredible Spicemen, and food writer and P&J columnist Lady Claire Macdonald, were rarely seen without their QMS branded pinnies.
Of course, very few of you as producers were there to see this. You were busy out working on your farms or crofts.
You’re not the target audience for promotional campaigns like this – your customers are.
I’m sure the majority of visitors to Taste of Grampian will have left the event with a much greater awareness of Specially Selected Pork, Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb than they had when they left their homes on Saturday morning.
Promotional work at food and drink festivals is a great way to promote our produce, but let’s not forget the job we, as an industry, can do to teach the public about farming.
Yesterday’s Open Farm Sunday event provided the platform for thousands of members of the public to visit a farm and learn first hand how their food is produced.
A survey conducted ahead of the event revealed some shocking statistics: one in four have never visited a farm, 26% don’t know milk comes from a dairy cow, 22% don’t know eggs come from chickens and 23% don’t know that bacon comes from pigs. What’s more, 51% do not realise there is a link between a dairy cow and butter, and 37% don’t realise steak comes from beef cattle.
Open Farm Sunday provides a great platform to inform the public. Well done to the 25 Scottish farmers and crofters who opened up their gates for this event.