Consumer preferences and spending habits are constantly evolving. At the recent AHDB Outlook Conference attendees heard from Richard Nicholls from the Future Foundation, who discussed consumer desires for transparency in the supply chain and growing demands for clear labelling. These changes have led to greater interests around the origin of food and having that added level of assurance. However EBLEX has been satisfying these changing consumer demands through the Quality Standard Mark (QSM) scheme since 2004.
Over the last 11 years the QSM has developed into a identifiable label that assures consumers about the eating quality and provenance of their beef or lamb product.
Retailers and suppliers alike are readily utilising the reputation of the QSM logo to communicate significant messages about their products to shoppers. The scheme’s popularity has meant that, to date, most of the country's leading supermarkets have voluntarily signed up to join. Additionally there are over 2,100 independent retailer members, major processors, manufacturers and many foodservice groups spanning from the public sector to the local pub.
The appeal of the scheme continues to grow as demand for quality assured product becomes more and more influential in consumer purchasing decisions. A meat and poultry survey, carried out last year by YouGov, found that over a third of respondents said they would be more likely to purchase meat which carries the QSM logo on pack. The survey also found that 50 per cent of consumers know about the scheme and understand what it represents.
Whether it is the shopping aisles or bistro menus, it’s clear that consumers want information on the safety and traceability of their food and look for assurance and origin indicators. EBLEX continues to help inform consumers with their choices through the QSM.
As with all good assurance schemes, it never stands still. EBLEX continually works with stakeholders in enhancing the reach of the scheme, monitoring market developments and undertaking promotional activity – the most recent of which saw Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth highlight the advantages the scheme delivers to his business and the wider supply chain.
The scheme also seeks to celebrate those in industry, whose commitment to high quality beef and lamb has led to a stand out product. That is why EBLEX has this year launched the Quality Standard Mark Excellence Awards to recognise and reward quality and innovation in beef and lamb production.
QSM is committed to maintaining rigorous quality standards, including areas such as food safety, animal welfare and care for the environment. This is all achieved through an independently audited, monitored and certified scheme which stretches across the supply chain.
What sets QSM apart from some other assurance schemes is that it addresses the key issue of eating quality - tackling consumer concerns about the succulence, tenderness and consistency of beef and lamb. Measures put in place to ensure these eating standards are met include, restricting older animals from the scheme, restricting animals from the supply chain that have previously been used for breeding purposes and set requirements for maturation.
These standards and measures not only ensure that EBLEX continues to put high quality assured meat on our tables, but also reflects its commitment to the red meat industry’s success and sustainability.