AHDB scraps assurance scheme to follow new approach

The AHDB’s Quality Standard Mark (QSM) scheme for beef and lamb will close in March 2022, levy board officials have announced.

Launched in 2004, the AHDB-funded assurance scheme includes requirements that have a positive effect on meat quality, such as age specifications and maturation times.

According to the AHDB, many of those issues are now adequately covered by tiered schemes offered by major retailers, catering butchers and their supply chains.

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This has prompted questions over whether funding a specific eating quality scheme continues to be the best use of the beef and lamb levy.

AHDB Beef and Lamb sector strategy director Will Jackson said the closure of the scheme signalled a new approach from the levy board.

“Concerns about red meat and health, and the environmental impact of livestock production are displacing eating quality as the main issues for consumers,” Mr Jackson said.

Instead of focusing on meat quality, the new approach would, therefore, centre on building and disseminating supporting science to the industry, he said.

Mr Jackson added: “This is where the AHDB’s marketing campaigns such as We Eat Balanced can have a positive effect, giving reassurance about continued ‘permission to eat’ beef and lamb as part of a sustainable, balanced diet.”

The levy board has also launched a new information hub for farm shops and smaller beef and lamb businesses. The hub will give advice and support on a range of issues, including beef and lamb cuts, nutrition claims and carcass yield calculators.

The AHDB will be encouraging high street butchers who use QSM-branded promotion to sign up to receive other point-of-sale kits available during the year.