Haggis to return to US menus by 2017

Scottish Food Secretary Richard Lochhead and James Macsween met with US government officials
Scottish Food Secretary Richard Lochhead and James Macsween met with US government officials

A recent trade mission to America could pay dividends as a long-established Loanhead-based company looks to expand its business.

Representatives of the Scotch lamb and haggis industry joined Scottish Food Secretary Richard Lochhead for positive meetings with the US government.

Haggis exports to the US stopped in 1971 when America introduced a ban on sheep lungs. Imports of all UK beef and lamb were stopped in 1989 after the BSE outbreak.

But proposed changes to US rules could put haggis and Scotch lamb back on American tables by 2017,

Mr Lochhead had a series of meetings with Lisa Mensah, an under secretary in the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – who have now confirmed draft rules will be published next year.

Mr Lochhead was accompanied by James Macsween of Macsween of Edinburgh, George Milne from the National Sheep Association, and NFUS vice-president Rob Livesey at meetings with importers, retailers and chefs to promote Scottish food and drink.

Mr Lochhead said: “Getting back into the US market in 2017 would unlock a huge market and millions of pounds of business for our Scotch lamb and haggis producers.

“Scotch lamb is among the best in the world and the Scotch label is seen as a real hallmark of quality, and getting back into the US market would be a real breakthrough. I was pleased to hear from under-secretary Mensah and the Animal and Plant Health Inspectorate Service that they will publish the draft rules next year to pave the way for the return of Scotch lamb and haggis onto US plates.

“We know that around 10 million US citizens claim Scottish heritage so we have a ready-made market with them and with Scots at heart. Of course exports to the US will also be a real boost for producers and farmers and benefit our economy.”

James Macsween said: “Macsween of Edinburgh – who are Scotland’s leading manufacturer of the national dish – are very excited about the prospect of exporting haggis to the US within the next 24 months. It will be a massive opportunity for us and the industry.”

Based at Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, award-winning Macsweens was established in the 1950s and moved to Loanhead in 1996.