Macaulay Land Use Research Institute Homepage
Scottish Environment LINK - The voice of Scotland's environment movement


31. Quality Assurance Schemes (Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Quality Cereals)


Quality Meat Scotland has published in their annual report 2004/2005 (Quality Meat Scotland , 2005b) figures regarding membership and coverage of their assurance schemes. Table 31.1 summarises the membership in the different QMS schemes.

Table 31.1 : Quality Assurance Scheme Membership 2004/2004

Scheme Membership numbers

QMS Cattle and Sheep

10,811 including 167 crofting groups

QMS Pigs


QMS Haulage


QMS Feeds


QMS Auction Markets


QMS Processors


Source: Quality Meat Scotland (2005b)

Due to the wide coverage of the schemes over 93% of Scotch Beef, 90% of Scotch Lamb and 96% of Scottish pork is fully assured throughout the supply chain (Quality Meat Scotland 2005b).

According to a press release from Quality Meat Scotland from March 2005, at that time 616,500 cows in Scotland are assured within the QMS Assurance scheme. This represents 89% of total cow numbers. 94% of beef cows are assured (464,000 out of 490,000) and 76% of Scottish dairy cows are also in the QMS scheme (152,000 out of 199,000). The main concentration of non-QMS assured dairy cows are in Grampian, Strathclyde and Central. 85% of Scottish dairy farms are members of the National Dairy Farm Assurance Scheme (NDFAS). The processing company pays for this and involvement is a prerequisite for supply (hence the high level of membership). However, NDFAS assures milk, not meat so the United Kingdom Accreditation Service and Assured Food Standards do not consider cull cows to be assured for meat production. Dairy farms therefore need to join a meat assurance scheme if they are to sell assured cull cows. In the Scottish pig sector, nearly all pigs produced by the Scottish red meat industry are covered by the QMS Assurance Scheme, with the majority of pigs located in the North East (Quality Meat Scotland , 2005c; NFUS, 2005).

In 2004/2005 the Scottish Quality Cereals assurance scheme has 3400 members and 85% of the crops is marketed through Scottish Quality Cereals (Scottish Quality Cereals, 2005b; NFUS, 2005).


Quality Assurance Schemes focus on improving market(ing) opportunities for agricultural products and producers and increasing consumer confidence through specific standards and labelling rather than on producing directly environmental benefits such as through agri-environment schemes. However, minimum requirements such as Codes of Good Practice and NVZ regulations need to be fulfilled by Quality Assurance Scheme members/participants.

Membership in a Quality Assurance Scheme is one of the options farmers can choose from the menu provided in the LMC Menu Scheme. It entitles farmers to a repayment of 50% of the annual membership fee, up to a maximum of £150. Given the uptake figures for the LMC Menu Scheme, the Quality Assurance Scheme option has been popular with land managers and achieved a relatively high uptake compared to other options from the menu. Although the promotion of quality standards and, hence, products the consumer wants, can potentially help the farming sector to better utilise market opportunities, a high uptake of this menu option reduces the available funds for other agri-environment options and schemes potentially constraining benefits of directly targeted agri-environment tools.


  • NFUS (2005): Farming Facts: What We Produce. External Website
  • Quality Meat Scotland (2005a): Consumer Assurance. External Website
  • Quality Meat Scotland (2005b): annual Report 2004 – 2005. External Website
  • Scottish Quality Cereals (2005a): Scottish Quality Cereals: Quality Assurance. External Website
  • Scottish Quality Cereals (2005b): The SQC Report. Newsletter Issue 24, Spring 2005. External Website
  • Scottish Quality Cereals (2005c): The SQC Report. Newsletter Issue 25, Summer 2005. External Website