Star products head for final

Nearly 100 of the most popular red meat, poultry, fish and seafood products from supermarkets were judged last week as part of the SuperMeat Awards, organised by The Meat Trades Journal.

Supermarkets and their independent suppliers entered products into seven categories - beef, pork and bacon, sausage, lamb, poultry, ready meals, fish and seafood. For the first time a selection of fresh meat products were judged alongside added-value products.

Judging was carried out in the home economics centre at the headquarters of the Women's Institute, Denman College, in Oxfordshire.

The judging panel - which comprised chefs, butchers and consumers - worked for a week analysing the products for raw appearance, cooked appearance, smell, taste, texture, innovation, value for money, packaging impact, nutritional information, salt, fat and sugar content, storage instructions, cooking advice and serving suggestions.

The judges included Keith Fisher, Meat and Livestock Commission new product development manager, Steve Hind of Parker Fine Food Services and WI cookery writer and tutor Margaret Williams. Journal representative Fred A'Court chaired.

A selection of the best products will now go forward to the Grand Final of SuperMeat on Wednesday 21 June at the Hilton Hotel in London's Park Lane, where category winners and the best overall product will be awarded. The best stores will also be named at a glittering, Oscars-style ceremony - sponsored by Bord Bia, Bpex, the Danish Bacon and Meat Council, Eblex, HCC, and Vion.

Fred A'Court said: "The judging for the SuperMeat Awards is probably the most comprehensive evaluation of its type carried out anywhere, and the supermarkets welcome the feedback from the judges' findings. We have sampled some excellent products this year that are a credit to the supermarkets stocking them and to the product development teams, and everyone, including farmers, in the supply chain.

"As well as a noticeable improvement in the taste, texture and overall quality of the products much better-looking and more informative packaging was also a strong feature of this year's entries," added A'Court.

The product finalists will be announced in the next few weeks. Attention now shifts to judging the stores.