Tender, juicy and prized cuts boasting quality recognized by all the major Italian butcher-chefs. The success of Scottish PGI meat continues in Italy. From the traditional ribs and roast beef through to the latest Tomahawk - a very popular cut obtained from beef Cuberoll - products from this area of Great Britain are highly appreciated: suffice it to say that Italy is the second market after France as regards imports of this type of meat.
The characteristics and prospects in this sector were outlined to Eurocarne Post by Rita Piva of Quality Meat Scotland, the entity that handles the promotion of Scottish PGI Beef in Italy.
Dott.ssa Piva: how has this sector responded to the economic crisis affecting the entire meat market in recent years?
“Scottish meat suffered a slight downturn the beginning of the crisis but now, thanks to new cuts and new initiatives, the market has recovered very well, despite rising prices caused by the Sterling-Euro exchange rate, which worsened significantly in the wake of the US dollar”.
What are the strengths of Scottish meat?
“Quality, taste and the professionalism of the entire production chain ensure top choice meat that is always consistent and assured throughout the year. Consumers and operators recognise this difference compared to other sources as an added bonus”.
In this context, what is the role of Italy for the Scottish meat supply chain?
“Italy is the second export market for Scotland and is consequently extremely important, especially as regards beef, rather less so for lamb, with consumption mainly concentrated in winter months and in high quality restaurants”.
What are the main difficulties you have encountered on the Italian market?
“Italian operators are very aware of price factors - much more so than other markets. They always seek to spend as little as possible but quality is therefore often unsatisfactory. In particular, at the beginning of the crisis, many operators sought to buy cuts at lower prices but found far from optimal value for money. Many are now buying Scottish meat again which, in terms of taste and juiciness, is thoroughly reliable. The higher purchase price depends on higher costs largely arising from the type of animal farming. Livestock are raised on open pastures with few head per hectare mostly easting grass, with minimal use of medication; calves exclusively on milk through to weaning and this is a very important aspect. Considerable attention is also paid to well-being throughout the entire production cycle”.
What are your future prospects in Italy?
“We are keen to expand our presence in the large-scale distribution/retail sector. Quality Meat Scotland has already established collaboration agreements with Bennet Supermarkets, which have dedicated space to our meat while also providing a great deal of information. This is a definitive, long-term project, not just a promotion, and many high-potential stores have portions of their meat shelves exclusively reserved to Scotland customised with promotional material. All cuts are top quality and cost more than traditional meat but we are achieving marvellous feedback since consumers have realised that quality offsets all other aspects”.
Source: Eurocarne Outlook