Peter Allen urges premium beef brand

Aubrey Allen chief executive Peter Allen has labelled the UK industry "lazy" and called for a premium beef brand to be developed domestically.

Speaking at the annual Eblex conference in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, Allen demanded that a system of grading similar to the one set up by the United States Department of Agriculture be implemented in the UK to improve the quality of beef.

"You take for granted that the flavour and tenderness is high in a US Prime or Choice cut. That's something we need to address," he said. "People buy beef because they remember having a great steak in a restaurant or a superb roast. They're living on memories because mostly, in the UK, they're disappointed. The quality isn't there."

Much of the problem is because the product bought by the average shopper in the UK is inconsistent, Allen added. "The quality of beef varies so much because you could be getting a 24-month-old heifer or a five-year cow on shelf. What we call 'beef' differs markedly because it has such different origins. You would never get products labelled 'tea' or 'coffee' in a supermarket, yet that is precisely what we have with the beef industry. It is costing the industry because the price of beef is dictated by the price of mince. We're suffering as an industry yet we can't be bothered to change tack. We need to be more open about what we do, to switch the lights on."

Creating a premium brand, said Allen, should start with the end product, the meat on the plate, finding out "what excites people, what gets them coming back for beef time and time again".

He concluded: "Although they would not find it easy, farmers need to co-operate to create a brand."