Spanish Approve Quality Standard Lamb12 April 2013
SPAIN - Spanish perceptions about the taste of lamb are being challenged this week by the English Beef and Lamb Executive at a major Iberian food showcase.
EBLEX is holding live butchery and cooking demonstrations at the Salon De Gourmets, which runs until tomorrow (April 11) in Madrid and targets the high-end hotel, restaurant and catering sector, with the aim of recruiting a new generation of Spanish fans of UK-reared lamb.
Spanish consumers historically prefer light, grain-fed lambs, so promoting larger, grass-fed Quality Standard lamb from the UK has proved a challenge in the past due to preconceptions about the taste.
However, the reaction of visitors to the show proves that this attitude can be changed, backing up research carried out by EBLEX which showed no clear preference among Spanish consumers for milder grain-fed lamb over grass-fed UK lamb.
"Coming from Spain myself, I know how Spanish consumers traditionally think and was expecting some resistance to our product," said EBLEX assistant marketing manager, Susana Morris.
"However, we are using a Spanish butcher and chef on our stand, and they are doing a great job of telling visitors about Quality Standard lamb and encouraging them to try it for themselves. People have been queuing up to sample our lamb and their reactions have been resoundingly positive.
"We're not aiming to compete with the established Spanish product, as we believe what we have to offer is very different and there's space in the market for both."
The event is the culmination of a long-term project which involved three Spanish butchers visiting the UK and being trained by EBLEX's Martin Eccles in the techniques required to butcher the larger British lamb and the versatility of the cuts available. Following the trip, butcher Nacho Vaquero was selected to appear at the show, together with established chef Ruben Cordero.
Historically, beef has been our major export to Spain (1,700 tonnes compared to 400 tonnes of lamb). However, Spanish sheep meat production has fallen by almost a third since its 2000 peak and is down by a quarter since the withdrawal of direct support payments in 2005, offering the opportunity to increase exports to this market.
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