Festival sees high quality
By Hannah Velten
EXTRA and higher quality exhibits saw the National Festival of Meat, held at Smithfield Market, begin to make its mark as the countrys leading meat industry show.
To reflect the whole industry, many classes were added to this years competition, said Royal Smithfield Club chief executive, Geoff Burgess. These included beef and lamb organic carcass, sausage, barbecue chef and retail butcher exhibitors.
"We are extremely encouraged by the number and overall quality of new exhibitors. People felt this was an opportunity to show and promote quality meat to help the industry," said Mr Burgess.
Exhibitor numbers increased on last year to 351 and more than 700 key meat industry personalities attended the event, including the meat buyer from the Savoy Hotel. The number of abattoirs taking part also increased to 15, including three small abattoirs.
"All the judges remarked on this years overall improvement in carcass quality and that organic carcasses rivalled main production quality. Perhaps quality improved because producers had more time to plan and prepare their animals for the second year of the event," added Mr Burgess.
Peter Davies, from Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, produced the inaugural winning organic lamb carcass. It had a Texel sire and Welsh Mountain x Suffolk dam. "We are delighted that weve been able to finish our stock to the highest professional standards," he said.
The largest new class was the pork sausage and pork speciality sausage, with 54 entries. The British Pig Association ran the competition to highlight the importance of traditional pig breeds to the meat industry.
The sausages, 1kg cooked and 1kg raw, had to be made from progeny of registered pedigree pigs. Mr Howlett, co-judge of the competition and winner of the Bicentenary Trophy, said the point was to show the public that traditional pig breeds can provide better eating quality in terms of flavour and taste. And the Middle White breed won, closely followed by the Berkshire breed pork and leek sausages.
The retail butcher class attracted six entries, but next years competition should have 10 finalists drawn from regional competitions. "This proposal is part of the planned enlargement of the event to integrate all parts of the meat industry, from producer to chef. This will allow focused and better communication between those involved in the meat chain," explained Mr Burgess. *