Hugh Judd, foodservice project manager for AHDB Beef & Lamb, discusses the positive impact the first Quality Standard Mark Excellence Awards has had on the beef and lamb industry, and why driving high standards and innovation continues to be essential, even in a thriving category.
When it comes to maintaining a competitive edge in the food industry, the importance of quality and innovation cannot be understated, especially for centre plate items such as beef and lamb. As consumer lifestyles change and tastes evolve, product innovation is essential in order to keep up with demand. Quality is equally as important, to keep customers coming back for more.
Competitions provide an ideal means of stimulating product development, recognising and rewarding excellence and also providing industry with a platform to showcase new and improved products. AHDB Beef & Lamb’s Quality Standard Mark Excellence Awards, introduced for the first time this year, was designed to do exactly that.
Open to retailers, caterers and manufacturers, the awards comprised three competitions, each designed to assess different areas of quality steak production: England’s Best Sirloin Steak, England’s Best Innovative Steak and England’s Best Steak Pie. In all three cases, the number of entries exceeded expectations and those products that made it through to the final did so only after fighting off stiff competition, making them thoroughly deserving of their awards.
On the eve of St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday, London’s ‘Underglobe’, situated beneath the Globe Theatre, provided the perfect backdrop to announce the highly anticipated winners of England’s Best steak product competitions, before an audience of prestigious beef and lamb industry guests and members of the press.
Three months on, not only are the winners still buzzing from their success, they are also reaping the rewards, with many reporting significant sales uplift as a result of the widespread publicity generated.
Just some of the highlights have included: a major multiple retailer experiencing a 35% increase in sales on its award winning steak line, a convenience store chain reporting a 24% average weekly sales increase of its winning product, an independent retailer celebrating a 197% post-win increase in sales on its steak product, and a catering butcher, who is delighted with a massive 300% increase in sales of its award winning steak.
Many of the products entered were specifically developed with the competition in mind so, as well as helping businesses to sell more quality assured beef and lamb, awards such as this clearly help to raise the bar when it comes to product development and innovation.
We are now starting to plan for next year’s awards and will be looking at how we can add further value to the beef and lamb industry in 2016. We will be sharing news and updates on the future competitions on our website www.qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk, so stay tuned for further details.
Contact details for the AHDB Beef & Lamb trade marketing team can be found here.