Scotland business

Poultry plan to promote premium brand for Scottish chicken

man cutting chicken

Retailers, caterers and fast food chains are being urged to buy chicken reared in Scotland.

Scottish government Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is writing to them, to find out the extent to which birds are locally sourced.

A plan for the poultry sector aims to create a premium brand for Scottish chicken, similar to those already used for Scotch beef and lamb.

Mr Lochhead described the quality of Scottish chicken as "impeccable".

He said people increasingly wanted to know the provenance of their food.

The poultry plan has identified "important steps" required to secure a sustainable and profitable future for Scotland's poultry sector.

'High quality'

It is to be updated throughout 2014 as progress is made. Opportunities are to be identified for poultry farmers to work together to cut costs, and support is to be given to the newly-established Scottish Chicken Growers Association.

Mr Lochhead said: "In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, 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."

The rural affairs secretary said earlier this year that Tesco had made a "very welcome" commitment to source 100% fresh Scottish chicken in its stores and he would like to see that "replicated elsewhere".

Scotland Food and Drink chief executive James Withers said: "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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