Exports of Scotland’s fabled haggis are under threat because of a shortage of young people wanting to becoming butchers, London’s Financial Times said.
The dish – sheep’s heart, liver and lungs with oatmeal, herbs and spices – is the traditional fare on Burns Night (January 25) in honour of Scots poet Robbie Burns, who hailed it as “great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race”.
The chief executive of the Scottish skills council Improve, Jack Matthews, told the business daily it was the epitome of Scottish industry, traditionally made, and a premium product. “But producers are finding it difficult to recruit workers with the right skills and that is holding back efforts to expand the industry,” he said, saying there was a shortage of trained butchers across Scotland.
“I’m happy to train people myself but a lot of the kids put forward have no interest in learning and lack basic employability skills.”
The FT said haggis sales are expected to have generated up to 1 million pounds in the run-up to the whisky-fuelled Burns Night festivities. More than 1 million will have been exported, it added.
Butcher Alan Elliott, who won the 2007 Scottish Haggis Championship, said he was looking to expand his business into mail order but was suffering recruitment problems. He said young people no longer saw butchery as a trade but added: “We use advanced machinery and have high standards, so it’s not just dealing with blood and guts.”
Personally, I prefer free-range Haggis. None of this force-fed shop-made Haggis for me!