Supply chain discusses the merits of mutton

Producers, processors, butchers and chefs met in London this week to discuss the opportunities and challenges for mutton in the UK.

The event, which took place at the Quo Vadis restaurant in Soho, was organised by the Mutton Renaissance Club. Chairman of the club John Thorley OBE and chief executive of the Academy of Culinary Arts Sara Jayne Stanes OBE opened the day by talking more about the history and success of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign.

A butchery demonstration followed, with Andrew Sharp using two Renaissance Mutton carcases to demonstrate the importance of maturation, breed selection and feed in producing quality mutton.

“Mutton is one of the most delicious meats available, but it’s also a complicated product that needs to be treated with care and attention at every stage of the production process, right from the farm to the point of butchery,” he said. “The breed and where it’s from, the food it eats and the way in which the animal is finished will all have an impact on the final eating quality of the meat.”

Guests then debated issues including traceability, provenance, regulatory barriers and marketing, with all agreeing that work needs to be done, both to promote mutton to consumers and guarantee a quality supply chain. This was followed by a lunch featuring leg, loin and shoulder of Renaissance Mutton, cooked by Quo Vadis head chef Jeremy Lee.

Thorley said: “This has been a fabulous day and I’d like to thank everyone who supported the event. Andrew gave a superb presentation and there was a very in-depth discussion among our guests on the many excellent qualities of Renaissance Mutton.

“Sheep play a vital role in shaping the British landscape and environment, and because it is packed with Omega 3, mutton contributes towards a healthy diet. Renaissance Mutton plays a valuable part in maintaining this status quo and sustaining the future of the sheep industry.

“It is imperative that the supply chain works together to produce the best-quality Renaissance Mutton for our chefs and for the consumer, if we are to get more people eating and enjoying it. It’s also crucial that both chefs and consumers understand that different cooking techniques are needed in order to get the best out of the product and create succulent and flavoursome dishes.”