To ensure our products remain safe and of consistent quality, we maintain the highest standards of food safety across our sites and operations. When meat products leave the factory, the conditions in which they are stored and transported is vital to sustaining safety, quality, taste and appearance. We are working on several cutting-edge scientific projects to ensure consistent quality meat, maximise product shelf life and reduce food waste.
Provide consistent high-quality meat and improve storage technology to extend shelf life and reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
Our industry leading Conception to Consumption project is an Innovate UK funded three-year flagship program. Working with UK farmers, in collaboration with Breedr and Scotland’s Rural College, the goal of the project is to develop innovative practices that deliver efficiencies to livestock production processes that are more sustainable and result in better quality beef. Meat quality represents a key focus of the project, starting with genetic influence and concluding with consumer studies; a farm to fork approach. Analysis of beef eating quality is conducted using a wide range of techniques from state-of-the-art non-invasive techniques and traditional laboratory assessments through to sensory panels. This will provide a deep understanding of meat quality attributes across a wide breadth of the supply chain. The results of this ‘first of its kind’ beef industry research will be available in 2023.
Using Controlled Dose Electrical Stimulation we aim to reduce the incidence of less tender meat and drive consistency. This technology is unique to us in the UK and EU. We continue to develop our exclusive Constant Current Electrical Stimulation equipment, which effectively controls carcase pH decline, avoiding undesirable degrees of variation in the eating quality of beef. Recent research work includes proving the efficacy of CDES in collaboration with Meat Technology Ireland, and three and a half year’s extensive research on beef tenderness under an EU Marie Sklowdowska-Curie Career-FIT Fellowship. The project is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, with Dr Mohammed Gagaoua, a proteomics expert, and includes an examination of the underlying differences between conventional unstimulated and CDES carcases. The results will be published 2023.
By continuously improving the environment in which our products are packaged, we are able to extend the shelf life and reduce food waste. Creating an anaerobic environment using vacuum packaging has long been the best method of preservation for red meat, which also helps meat quality to mature and improve. Much of our product portfolio is vacuum packed, and we are working with packaging and equipment suppliers on retail ready solutions.
Following the success of a previous Innovate UK funded project we are now actively engaged on the follow up project High Barrier Film Part 2 (HiBarFilm2). This Innovate UK funded 30-month project is aiming to develop high barrier mono-material flexible films which do not compromise on safety or food shelf-life utilising the latest nanomaterials. The aim of the project is to develop a barrier packaging material for vacuum packed meat and other foods which can either be recycled or digested.
Innovative storage technology is utilised to manage the supply chain as demand for various products fluctuates, allowing us to provide consistent quality meat in the right volumes at the right times. This provides our customers and consumers with a good eating experience and helps to minimise waste.
- Using deep chilling, microwave tempering and freeze-thaw technology to stabilize the supply chain, allows us to meet demand at various times, maximising carcase value and utilisation and eliminates waste.
- We are experimenting with metagenomics, a gene sequencing tool, to build a better understanding of food microbiomes than current microbiological testing allows. This new knowledge may allow us to naturally extend the life of our products as the technology becomes more available in the future.
- As instigators and founding members of the Campden BRI managed Red Meat Club we are reviewing how shelf life is defined in the meat industry, and updating this definition to suit the product of today. When protocols were established many years ago, our products were not matured for the same length of time, and our modern facilities are better able to protect food for longer. Protocols are being reviewed to extend shelf life and reduce food waste, while maintaining safe, wholesome food.
FOOD WASTE ALONG THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Around a third of all food produced globally for human consumption is wasted or lost, accounting for about 8% of global GHG emissions and about a quarter of the water used in agriculture. We focus efforts on reducing waste along the supply chain, from farm to consumer, and as signatories to WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment and Meat in a Net Zero World, are working towards the collective ambition to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
- We engage with farmers to improve animal health and welfare, reducing mortality and food waste.
- As a result of our commitment to valorisation, utilisation, and LEAN processing, food waste from our production as a percentage of finished product is consistently below 1%.
- We work with customers to improve on-pack home storage instructions, such as changing freezing advise from ‘at day of purchase’ to ‘before the use by date’, and increasing frozen storage times from 1 month to 3 months.
- We support WRAP’s UK Food Waste Action Week, a consumer engagement campaign to alert UK citizens to the link between waste food and climate change, and to highlight ways to reduce waste in the home.
- Between 2019 and 2020 we donated 125,000 meal portions to front-line workers, people in need and community groups.
- We support and donate food to FareShare in the UK and FoodCloud in Ireland.