‘Dragon’ promotes British rose veal
Entrepreneur and star of TV’s Dragons’ Den Deborah Meaden has urged British farmers and meat producers to make high-welfare British rose veal more widely available, saying that British farmers are missing a trick in not promoting humanely-produced veal.
The business woman told Radio 4’s Farming Today programme that although the market for rose veal might be limited, it was also potentially lucrative – provided industry can make consumers aware of the higher animal welfare involved in production and change consumer their views.
She said: “It’s a niche market, but there should be enough of a niche market to make it enough of a business opportunity. But we have got to change the consumers view on it – and it needs to be high-welfare veal. People were concerned about the welfare of the animal, that’s why they didn’t eat veal.”
“Consumers have a huge amount of power – they have to go out there and ask the question ‘Is this British rose veal, reared to the correct welfare standards?’.”
Although she said she would like to see it in supermarket shelves, her drive is to find a solution to the by-products of the dairy farms. She said that the industry had to prove that it was better for a dairy bull calf to be allowed to live a good short life, rather than have surplus calves destroyed soon after birth.
“It’s going to be a brave person who puts that meat on the shelf without explaining why it’s good to eat. But what I do think is that it needs to be a two-pronged attack. There’s no point telling people about the product if it’s not available and there’s no point making the product available unles you tell people that it’s good to eat.
“It’s not beyond anyone’s brainpower to say, we’re going to be making this available – this is how we’re going to do it and how we’re going to tell people about it.”
Eblex data reveals that the veal market in the UK is still very small with total sales of 125 tonnes compared to the total market for beef and veal at 269,291 tonnes.
Jo Biggs, assistant communications manager for Eblex told the MTJ: “It’s encouraging to see a high profile figure such as Deborah Meaden speaking out in favour of British veal. Any publicity that helps change consumers’ negative preconceptions about how veal is produced should be welcomed by the industry.
“It is, however, a niche market, therefore it’s only a viable business opportunity for a small proportion of producers. Only 0.4% of GB households purchased veal in the last year, therefore it would take a significant sea change in public opinion for veal to become a staple of British consumers’ shopping baskets.
“It’s also important to bear in mind that veal is not the only option for dairy bull calves. In 2010, 57% of the beef produced in the UK came from the dairy herd. This use of what is essentially a by-product of the dairy industry is a success story which is often overlooked.”
Official estimates reveal that more than 75% of dairy bull calves were reared for beef in 2010, according to DairyCo.