European meat delegates take knowledge exchange trip to USA

Eblex and the Young European Meat Committee (YEMCO) explored the possibility of a free trade agreement with the US during a knowledge exchange trip earlier this month.

The trip, made up of 25 delegates, visited lamb and beef plants and retail outlets in Denver. The week-long visit gave delegates an insight into the sourcing from local supply chains and the advanced breeding genetics, growth hormones and microbiological challenges British meat could be exposed to if it were to be sold there.

Christine Walsh who represented Britain, said: Although it was a busy programme, the visit covered many aspects of the meat supply chain in depth. It was particularly useful to compare and contrast how things are done in the US in comparison to the approaches taken in Europe. The sheer scale of their production and processing plants introduced many benefits in the form of economies of scale. However, it also meant management and process control was vital to ensuring safe food production.

Walsh also highlighted the move towards fattier meat in US: The other eye-opener was the move towards fatter animals. Fat is deposited first onto the mesentery and lastly as intramuscular or marbling. Marbled meat is hugely important to meat palatability. She added: As with any visit of this type, there were some areas where we felt the US excelled and others where we felt we were ahead of the game. The important point is that it provided the opportunity for us to share new learning and best practice.

We returned with a few extra pounds and plenty of food for thought on how certain US approaches to supply chain development could be implemented here to help our efforts in delivering greater profitability and sustainability in our sector.

There were several ideas that Eblex will look to include in its offering to the red meat processing sectors to simplify the process, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

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