Alternative cuts a hit, Eblex claims

Increased demand for alternative steak cuts is paying off for wholesalers, processors and catering butchers with benefits including improved beef carcase balance and increasing prices of under-used primals, Eblex has claimed.

According to the levy body, feedback on its new Quality Standard steak range has proven to be incredibly positive and helped push up market prices of certain beef muscles. For example, trade prices show the feather muscle, from which the Flat Iron Steak is produced, is now wholesaling for 15% more than it used to.

Dick van Leeuwen, Eblex master butcher, said: Thanks to seam butchery methods, we are now able to generate maximum value and profitability from lesser-used cuts. The feather muscle is normally reserved for braising, dice or mince; however, by cutting it differently we can produce an extremely tender, succulent and juicy steak. This steak, when matured correctly, is an economically viable alternative to rump or sirloin and therefore, positively impacts on the overall value of the feather.

The Flat Iron Steak is just one of 12 alternative Quality Standard steak cuts developed by Eblex, in conjunction with master chef Pierre Koffmann, helping to deliver added value to different muscles including the body skirt, thick flank, underblade, heel, topside and feather.

Since their launch to market in 2008, uptake of the steaks in the foodservice sector has been steadily increasing, as pubs, restaurants and other catering establishments demand better-value menu options that still deliver in terms of customer satisfaction and expectations. In fact, one catering butcher based in the East Midlands has reported huge demand, Eblex said, selling thousands to chefs across the region each week. Meat processors are also benefiting, capitalising on a growing domestic market for muscles that they traditionally exported.

Van Leeuwen added: Each week we receive positive feedback from industry about these steaks and it is evident they are making a difference to the profitability of the supply chain.

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