AGRICULTURAL organisations from Scotland, England and Wales are uniting in a new initiative which will see them work together to communicate the benefits of red meat in a balanced diet as part of a UK-wide meat and health programme.

Quality Meat Scotland, Hybu Cig Cymru Meat Promotion Wales and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board are cooperating in a jointly-funded programme of activity to collectively raise consumer awareness of red meat's positive nutritional content.

The initiative is being financed from part of a £2 million fund of AHDB red meat levies ring-fenced for collaborative projects – an interim arrangement put in place while a long-term solution is sought on the thorny issue of levies being collected at point of slaughter in England, for animals which have been reared in Scotland or Wales.

This is the first time the three organisations – which each have their own health and education programmes – have delivered a united GB-wide programme of health activity behind beef, lamb and pork.

As part of its work, AHDB has for some time allocated resources to the Meat Matters programme, which has also included input and funding from Beef and Lamb New Zealand, Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Livestock and Meat Council Northern Ireland, and Ireland’s Bord Bia, on positive consumer messaging, which will continue alongside the core programme.

The 2018/19 programme of shared activity kicked off this month and will see a greater focus on proactive campaigns aimed at providing consumers with 'balanced and evidence-led' advice on the role that meat can play in a healthy, balanced diet.

“There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that red meat is packed with nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins and potassium,” said AHDB chief marketing and communications officer Christine Watts.

“Despite this, consumers are often duped by pseudo-science or ill-informed and sensationalist reporting encouraging them to cut down on their meat consumption or cut it out altogether. This can be highly dangerous, especially for certain groups who are deficient in vital nutrients such as iron.

“This industry has a great story to tell, not just in terms of nutrition, but in terms of sustainability and environmental harmony," insisted Ms Watts. "This reinvigorated programme will help to get these messages to consumers enabling them to make an informed and balanced choice.”

QMS director of marketing and communications, Carol McLaren, added: “Farmers and others working at each step of the red meat production chain take huge pride in the care and commitment which goes into producing a safe and nutritious product.

“This new programme of activity offers an excellent opportunity to work closely with our sister organisations in England and Wales to collectively raise the profile of red meat’s positive health and sustainability messages.”

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit