It’s not good for the reputation of our meat when a celebrity chef says it’s not up to scratch. It’s even worse when he’s an ambassador for Beef + Lamb NZ.
But Peter Gordon claims the quality of our meat has dropped while prices have increased steeply.
In response to questions from The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, Gordon said: “It is getting to the point where we will probably have to drop NZ lamb from our menus and move to Welsh or other lamb. It seems madness that a NZ-owned business can’t support its own product.”
Gordon, who owns top-end London restaurant The Providores and Tapa Room, along with Dine in Sky City, Auckland, added there was a risk of protein substitution in restaurants as prices pushed higher.
Beef was appearing more in cheap meat cuts like flank, bavette and cheeks. “Kid goat is appearing, even squirrel is all the rage in some London restaurants.”
Gordon had also noted that there was “more kudos” for restaurants to feature European lamb from sources including Salt Marsh and Pyrenees milk fed lamb, when NZ lamb could be bought in supermarkets.
Beef + Lamb NZ market development manager Craig Finch said he was surprised at the comments. Gordon has appeared in some netcast videos through Beef + Lamb’s http://www.national-obsession.com website, including one on how to prepare and cook a roast leg of lamb.
“We would admit he would be finding it horribly difficult right at this point in time to source chilled lamb, it is out of season and he would be paying through the nose for it,” Finch said.
Regarding quality, Finch said it most definitely was not a sliding trend and felt Gordon would have directed any quality concerns direct to Beef + Lamb staff in the United Kingdom.
“Buying out of season though, you would get some variable quality.”
That’s the problem with trying to maintain a 12 month supply for a seasonal produce – there will always be a few weeks of the year when it’s out of season.
Improvements in processing and storage have extended the shelf life of chilled meat but the longer it’s kept the less like the fresh product it will be.
If supermarkets and restaurants want continuity of supply they’ll have to accept that price and quality will vary through the season.
The alternative is to find another source of fresh meat for the few weeks of the year when there’s a gap in supply between last season’s meat and this season’s.