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Boost for world-first meat eating quality project

The Scottish red meat industry today took a step closer to developing world-leading technology to determine the eating quality of meat.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the red meat industry development body, confirmed  the Scottish Government’s commitment to match-fund a three year project to develop the groundbreaking technology.

Scotland would be first to have a novel process allowing the measurement of meat eating quality factors. QMS Chairman Donald Biggar described the news as “a huge boost for the Scottish red meat industry”.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to match-fund this substantial project is a clear signal of its understanding of the importance of research and development in the Scottish red meat industry.

“The development of new technology will mean it will be possible to make a rapid assessment of the complex range of factors which determine how good a piece of beef tastes.

“The data on the quality of individual carcases in meat plants could then be fed back from the processor to the producer so that he or she can pinpoint the sort of farm level decisions that are delivering consistently high quality meat.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This project is truly ground-breaking. As well as being great news for the whole Scottish red meat chain, it will also be hugely beneficial for consumers who will be able to make a purchasing decision about Scotch Beef with even more confidence about the quality of the product.

“Research and development play a crucial part in delivering a sustainable, profitable future for the Scottish red meat industry and associated businesses which provide employment for more than 50,000 people and contribute £1.5 billion to Scotland’s economy.”

Following the tendering process, the project is expected to get underway early in 2010.  The initial focus will be on beef, with the aim to extend the technology to lamb and pork.

Scotland’s meat plants process around 8500 prime beef carcases every week producing 2900 tonnes of meat each week. The turnover of the beef processing industry in Scotland is worth half a billion pounds annually.

Around 70% of all Scotch Beef produced in Scotland is sold in England. The European export market, which suffered a setback following the 2007 Foot and Mouth outbreak, is now back on track with increasing volumes being delivered to key markets in France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.