Meat demand was outstripping supply worldwide, making it more costly. This was further fuelled by the UK foodservice’s increasing insistence on using just a handful of cuts, which was also pushing up imports, according to Russell Allen, managing director of butchers Aubrey Allen.
“If meat consumption continues to rise worldwide, then it is going to become a luxury,” Allen told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s MA300 event in Newcastle last week (24 September).
Allen, who supplies meat to the Royal Households and chefs including Chris Galvin and Raymond Blanc, claimed the foodservice sector was importing too much inferior quality meat.
More than 50% of the pork used by the UK foodservice sector was imported, as was 50% of the bacon used in British pubs, claimed Allen.
‘80% of steaks come from …’
Do you think that customers will beat paths to our doors for products that are not better than they can get from supermarkets?
- Source: Allen
“80% of steaks come from countries such as Botswana, the Ukraine and Brazil where their rearing standards are not as good as they are in Britain.”
In some cases, many of the imported products were of a lesser quality to those consumers could buy from UK supermarkets, he added.
“Do you think that customers will beat paths to our doors for products that are not better than they can get from supermarkets?”
Most food businesses were serving the same cuts of steaks – ribeye, rump and sirloin – he added.
The reality was that these steaks were mass-produced, aged in vacuum packs, often frozen and would have travelled hundreds of miles before making it to the kitchen.
There were tastier alternative cuts that chefs could use, which would improve their profits and could be more easily supplied by British producers, Allen added.
For instance, the spider steak or the bistro fillet were often overlooked in favour of more tradition cuts, but could provide chefs with better margins.
Made for as little as £2.50
In some cases, dishes created using the alternative cuts could be made for as little as £2.50, but sold for as much as £17, he said.
Ordering alternative cuts from the butcher would also reduce the financial stresses on suppliers and kitchens, according to Allen.
“We have had huge pressures as an industry and it’s been difficult for operators to keep beef on the menu because of rising prices.
“I don’t want to be all doom and gloom about it all, but beef prices are going to continue to rise unless something is done.”
For chefs dubious about the potential alternative cuts offered, Allen concluded: “I would have never believed 10 years ago that you could sell a burger for £12.”
The next MA300 event will be held at the Albert Hall, North Circus Street, Nottingham NG1 5AA on Wednesday 27 January 2016.
Places are limited. To book your two free operator tickets call Jo Horton on 01293 610 403 or email Joanne.Horton@wrbm.com