Scotland's red meat industry contributed £2.1 billion (US$3.3 billion) to the country's economy in 2011, according to Quality Meat Scotland's Scottish Meat Industry Profile, a 10 percent increase over 2010 numbers.
While beef and lamb producers benefitted from stronger prices, pig farmers saw production costs rise more than their returns and processors felt increased pressure on their margins, said the report. It may be another year before increased confidence is reflected in breeding stock populations, according to Stuart Ashworth, head of Quality Meat Scotland's economic services. There was further consolidation in the pig sector in 2011 where, although prices improved over 2010, they still averaged below 2009 levels and input costs remained high. The sow herd contracted sharply and returned to its downward trend of the past decade, declining by nearly 14 percent to 32,200 head.
“In the throes of a weak economy, generally the processing sector struggled to pass on the increased cost of sourcing livestock," said Ashworth. "While strong demand for beef and pork facilitated an upwards movement in retail prices during the summer months, consumption fell back towards the end of the year as prices were perceived by many consumers to have reached prohibitive levels.
“However, on the upside, the export trade was buoyant and presented some new opportunities to achieve improved carcass balance, while input costs began to ease towards the end of the year."