Eblex conference highlights international experience

Speakers at the Eblex Processor Conference last week highlighted best practices by drawing on experiences from across the globe.

A panel of varied and informative speakers spoke to delegates at this year’s Eblex Processor Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, including Professor Chris Calkins from the University of Nebraska and Michael Crowley, regional manager of Eblex’s Australian counterpart, Meat & Livestock Australia.

American successes

Professor Calkins gave delegates a fascinating insight into some of the success stories from the American processing world, discussing examples of developments across the pond that could be applicable here. He gave accounts of the “muscle by muscle” carcase approach they had taken.

“We think there are some parallels to what is being done in England and the UK, so it’s wonderful to get the chance to work with the scientists at Eblex and the industry here to show examples of things that have worked for us and that might work for you,” he said.

One example, he said, was the work the industry in America had done with the flat iron steak, 70 million lb of which was sold into foodservice last year. “Ten years ago that number was zero,” he said, adding that more flat irons were sold last year than porterhouses and T-bones put together. Other ways in which America has broken away from tradition-bound processing for profitability are finding “diamond in the rough” muscles in the shoulder and in the heel, which would usually be ground for mince but are actually of steak quality: petite tenders, ranch steaks, and Delmonico steaks, to name a few.

He added: “It’s an opportunity to rethink how we approach things, how we disassemble that muscle carcase to create meat and then how to structure our offerings to consumers in ways that meets their needs.”

Meat Standards Australia

Crowley, now the Meat & Livestock Australia regional manager of Europe & Russia, was formerly a vital figure in the development of the impressive Meat Standards Australia (MSA) eating quality programme.
He outlined how the system worked, explaining that masses of information on each carcase was collated throughout the supply chain, with the data resulting in ageing and cooking recommendations, as well as an on-pack grading system. The presentation provided much food for thought for UK industry delegates.

He said: “MSA is really about taking the guesswork out of buying beef for consumers. It’s about addressing areas around variability and, ultimately, delivering better outcomes that meet or exceed consumer expectations.

“It’s a paddock-to-plate programme that identifies critical control points along the entire supply chain that impact on consumer eating quality.

“It delivers better outcomes for consumers, which results in more money for the supply chain, and premiums are available right through from the retailer, foodservice operator, wholesaler and then passed back to producers. It’s a great incentive to produce better-quality products and, as a result, lifts profitability in the industry at the same time.”

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