Gene technology future of British beef?

New technology allowing the gene for meat tenderness to be identified in certain native breeds of bulls is the future of adding-value to British dairy and beef farmers as well as improving quality for the British consumer.

The claim was made by managing director of Blade SW, Richard Phelps, who added the technology, developed in the US over the last two and a half years, had enabled Genus and Blade Farming South West to join forces in order to produce consistently tender meat while improving the producers' margins.

Phelps said: "The future with this scheme is that if we can up the game over here (in the UK) to improve the quality of the meat and by promoting that buying this product will give the customer a better taste and a better appearance - and by increasing the volumes involved - we can work with farmers more directly.

"Currently we are trading with the farmers on a weekly basis but that is not going to improve the bigger picture.

"It needs to operate on a bigger scale in order for it to benefit the consumers and the farmers."

Phelps and Genus' beef manager, Neil Wharton, explained how the Better Beef Scheme works to farmers at the recent Dairy Event. The project also has involvement from Arla Foods, Southern Counties Fresh Foods and EBLEX.

Phelps said: "The Genus/ABS data and new DNA technology has meant we have can identify the three typical British breeds - South Devon, Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bulls - with the exact requirements for a more consistent beef trade."

He added, Arla dairy farmers approved the bulls that met specific requirements for eye muscle size and tenderness and the resulting calves went through the Blade SW system for slaughtering at SCFF - part of the Tesco and McDonald's supply chain.

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