Innovation Breathes New Life Into the British Meat Industry

New products on to the market are the lifeblood of industry. We live in a fickle world with people being tempted by all sorts of new products all vying for consumer attention.

Flexitarianism, for instance, hasn’t gained ground because people are going off eating meat. It is increasingly becoming a way of eating because people are inspired by the different offerings other than meat.

Vegetarian recipes are chock full of imagination and innovation and the meat sector must learn to match this inspiration with its own imagination and innovation. Food technology has meant that vegetables are offered in a greater variety of prepared foods that have a good shelf life, can be refrigerated or frozen and the quality is maintained or even enhanced.

I do not want to be too negative about the industry here because I think it is doing a pretty good job on finding different ways to present meat and different ideas for recipes often inspired by some excellent chefs and butchers leading the way. AHDB has done some excellent work in recent years stimulating ideas and innovative new cuts.

However, we must accept that for the moment meat and two veg or the traditional Sunday roast are not going to get the traction. Meals have become much more about dishes that incorporate all the ingredients and the industry needs to make sure that meat fits into these dishes quickly and easily.

Sous vide – a fresh opportunity

Sous vide cooking has provided a wonderful tool and opportunity to bring meat into meals in such a way that is easy, clean, and ensures that it is cooked perfectly to give customer satisfaction. The industry needs to embrace new technologies such as this. It should start by taking stock of how many beef lamb and pork products are using sous vide technology. I suspect disappointingly low.

Sous vide can help the industry tick so many boxes;

  • It taps into the growing trend for convenience as it just needs reheating
  • It can be used for infusing a wide range of flavours satisfying the adventurous
  • Because it is vacuum sealed the shelf life is extended
  • It helps ensure near perfect quality as it avoids overcooking which in my view is a disaster for most meats
  • Because it is cooked in its own juices the flavour is enhanced.
  • It can help with carcase balance by making sure cuts needing long slower cooking are done to the right temperatures and timings

In short sous vide technology has the potential to allow meat to match the innovation and imagination that has propelled the enthusiasm for vegetables.

About the author

Nick Allen is CEO of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) which is the leading trade association in the meat and meat product industry.