Quality is key to successful beef and lamb sector

Dr Phil Hadley's blog articlesDr Phil Hadley, southern senior regional manager at Eblex, explains why quality improvements must always be to the fore in retaining consumer confidence and maximising returns

Meat quality improvements remain a constant goal in maintaining and developing the reputation for the beef and lamb sector.

Driving enhanced meat eating quality and encouraging full carcase utilisation are at the heart of what Eblex does, to help ensure an enjoyable eating experience for consumers, while maximising returns for the supply chain. If consumers have a good experience, they will buy the product again.

With this very much in mind, the Eblex Processor Conference on 22 January will examine a number of key areas – not least the quality and consistency of meat – to ensure greater consumer satisfaction.

Eblex has been at the forefront of addressing meat quality issues, most recently with the publication of our Casserole Revival report. Significantly, the report revealed that casseroles retain much appeal among consumers in terms of taste and ease of cooking, but are let down by varying results.

Significantly, product analysis highlighted mixed muscles in many packs, as well as issues with fat and sinew levels, all of which have a major impact on eating quality. Let’s face it, consumers don’t want chewy or tough meat.

So, what’s the solution? Ensuring greater product consistency and recommending cooking times for different muscle groups will go a long way towards tackling the issues raised. Focus groups revealed that consumers are confused about the casserole and braising sector in-store and when cooking, with product consistency being a key determining factor. Only by addressing this consistency – from product description and cut specification to cooking methodology – can we restore consumer confidence. The report findings, plus our recent cut development work, will be among the topics in the spotlight at the conference in January.

Of course, research into meat quality isn’t exclusively ours and we can always pick up tips from our industry colleagues around the world and vice versa. Meat Standards Australia, for example, is a beef and sheep meat eating quality initiative driven by Meat & Livestock Australia.

Designed to help consumers buy and cook red meat, it involves research into all parts of the supply chain to look at the impact each stage has on eating quality – processing systems, cuts, ageing periods and cooking methods, for example. The scheme has led to a consumer-focused eating quality standard that is achieving growing success. Michael Crowley, regional manager Europe & Russia, Meat & Livestock Australia, will give an overview of the key scheme parameters and outlining the achievements since its inception.

The conference will also give delegates a useful insight into latest developments on cutting methods in the US beef sector to enhance carcase utilisation by Professor Chris Calkins, from the University of Nebraska.

Ultimately, we are all working towards achieving a collaborative goal − helping ensure that beef and sheep meat quality is the highest standard possible. Only by doing this will we be able to maintain and enhance consumer confidence, while maximising returns throughout the supply chain.

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