Industry-led project can enhance the reputation of Welsh Lamb

The results from a five-year industry-led research project can be the catalyst for further enhancing the “envied reputation” of PGI Welsh Lamb quality around the world.

Posted on Dec 01 ,00:05

Industry-led project can enhance the reputation of Welsh Lamb

Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) - conducted four trials across the UK as part of the Welsh Government and EU-funded Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project.

The project was designed to explore on-farm and processing factors which may influence meat eating and nutritional quality, with the aim of ensuring and enhancing the excellence of the country’s protected geographical indication (PGI) lamb.

Across 60 months, nearly 2,000 consumers rated the sensory quality of 13,400 samples in trials which looked at the potential effect of:

  • Breed type, gender, and muscle cut
  • Finishing diet and meat ageing period
  • Seasonality and gender
  • Muscle cut, hanging and packaging method

Lambs were sourced from across Wales, involving 66 farms as a representative of production systems in the country.

Panels were held at 12 locations across the UK with consumers testing seven samples, rating them on aroma, tenderness, juiciness, flavour, and overall liking.

At the end of the study all datasets from across the four trials were combined and analysed, with results showing that Welsh Lamb meat is healthy, nutritious, and the eating quality was good, whilst those lambs that were finished on grass and/or forage had higher levels of omega-3 and essential amino acids.

Dr Eleri Thomas, who led the project at HCC, said: "Having spent five years on the project, it is wonderful to be able to compile such an impactful and engaging report".

"The findings will provide a fantastic base to work from as we look to ensure that Welsh Lamb remains ever popular with consumers in the future and maintains an enviable reputation around the world".

"While we have always thought that Wales produces excellent lamb, it is wonderful this research confirms that our meat is healthy, nutritious, and of impressive quality".

Further analysis highlighted that:

  • Lamb finishing diet did not affect consumer sensory scores, intra-muscular fat or zinc content, but fatty acid and iron content was impacted
  • Lamb gender had no effect on consumer sensory scores, however there were impacts observed if they were managed in mixed sex finishing groups
  • Fat class did not affect eating quality but did impact muscle fat composition in terms of increased intramuscular, saturated, and monounsaturated fats

Dr Thomas added 'We would like to thank industry partners who helped make this project possible - including farmers and processing businesses. We hope and believe this research will be a benefit to all across the sector to ensure a successful future for Welsh Lamb'.

The Welsh Lamb Meat Quality project was one of three five-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme, which was funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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