US project to define beef cuts heads to Britain

A new beef cuts research programme has added $2.5bn to the value of the beef herd in the US, and some of its findings are on the verge of being implemented in the UK.

Called 'New Cuts for the New Consumer', a project conducted by the universities of Nebraska and Florida in the US led to 86m lbs of Flat Iron steak and 40m lbs of Petite Tender steak sold to wholesale and foodservice markets in 2009.

Eblex is researching ways to market the Denver steak cut isolated by the project in the UK. The work, conducted by professor of animal science at Nebraska Chris Calkins sought to clearly define muscle groups within the beef carcase and develop steaks on that basis. As a result, from the "much-maligned and misused" shoulder clod (in Calkins' words), the Petite Tender, Flat Iron steaks and Ranch steaks were developed and marketed.

"The classic 'hunk' or 'chunk' of steak took a lump of meat from across muscle groups," said Calkins, "all cooking to different times and with different eating qualities. Of course you have the price determined by the lowest common denominator ­ the worst quality part of the meat. We're now looking at serious value from the expert cutting of each part."

Carcase muscle groups were analysed on the basis of tenderness, colour, fat content, shape, composition and processing traits. The report found 39 different muscle groups in total.