Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren highlighted frustration in the sector, particularly among farmers hit by reduced and late support payments and low farm gate prices.
“This is a disheartening time for many hard-working Scottish livestock producers,” he told journalists at market update briefing.
But Mr McLaren stressed opportunities in a global market which appreciated quality and sustainability.
"These qualities would place our products in the very top price bracket in markets such as North America, yet they seem to be taken for granted by UK retailers. It’s essential that a larger share of the retail value finds its way back to the primary producer.”
Mr McLaren urged farmers not to focus on areas they could not control, including pence per kilo, cheaper imports, exchange rates, wider market access and input costs.
Areas they could control included meeting demand in terms of carcase weight and grade, improving herd health and efficient use of grass, he said.
He added that implementing the Beef 2020 proposals would offer opportunities.
"An integrated and accessible database was a central recommendation and is seen as key to delivery of improved productivity," said Mr McLaren.
"The Scottish Government’s new Beef Efficiency Scheme is the central mechanism for populating this database. I’d encourage all producers of suckled calves to join.”
Chief executive ‘Uel Morton said QMS’s priority remained marketing Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork.
“Over 70 per cent of this is allocated to marketing and other consumer-facing activities with less than 20 per cent focussed on our industry development activities,” he said.
“The loss of levy to other parts of Great Britain continues and the actual amount of levy received for the year fell short of our initial budget estimate by £52,000."
QMS levy spend
Budgeted external spend for 2016/17 was £5.26m, up from £5.1m in 2015/16.
Levy income for the year ending March 31 2015 was £3.97m, down £123,000 on the previous year.
Forecast for levy income for the year ahead is £4.19m, an increase of £215,000.