17th May 2010

Harnessing new technology to add value to meat production

The early results of a research project looking at techniques to add value to our meat production system look promising, it was revealed at the launch of Quality Meat Scotland’s Research and Development Report 2010.

The project is being carried out by Cameron Craigie, the first PhD student solely funded by QMS, and harnesses scientific expertise in both New Zealand and Scotland as part of a new research collaboration between QMS, SAC, AgResearch (New Zealand Crown Research Institute) and Massey University in New Zealand.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Craigie said the aim of the project was to develop objective measures of eating quality and a value-based marketing system in Scotland.

“Objective measurements of meat quality and saleable meat yield are very important and offer the possibility that farmers could also be rewarded for the quality of meat they produce. At present our grading system doesn’t take eating quality or product consistency into account – two key factors in a consumer’s decision about whether to repeat a meat purchase,” said Mr Craigie.

Equally, the EUROP grading system cannot, he said, give a clear market signal to farmers about what consumers want and what direction they need to move to increase returns.

“Adding value to the system by guaranteeing quality will place Scottish beef and lamb well ahead of its competitors in both the domestic and export markets. By adding value to the product Scottish farmers can increase their strategic competitive advantage and profit,” added Mr Craigie.

Two key technologies – Video Image Analysis (VIA) and Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) - are being investigated to measure meat yield and the saleable meat quality of beef and lamb under commercial conditions in Scotland.

The project is looking at whether these technologies could provide the information needed to form the basis of a value-based marketing system.


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